National Education Policy: Research Scholars ask for helpline, body to curb harassment

The suggestions were submitted by a team of six research scholars from various research institutes in the country
The suggestions were submitted on June 6
The suggestions were submitted on June 6

The research field in India isn't untouched by cases of harassment and bias. A month ago, with the onset of the #PhDMeToo movement, many researchers across the country called out their guides who had harassed physically and mentally. Many of these instances were rather shocking.

Now, a group of research scholars have submitted a set of suggestions in response to the National Education Policy and one of its key points is to set up a Research Scholars' Advisory Council in every institute, to "enquire into any matter of grievance concerning research scholars and Postdoctoral scholars." It says that at least 25 per cent of the committee's members must be from outside the institute and that the council must meet twice a year. 

The scholars have also asked that a government authority must look into the grievances of research scholars irrespective of institution or funding agency and conduct impartial probes into allegations of harassment, research fraud and other issues. Another notable suggestion is to set up a helpline for the research scholars to register their complaints. It also says that for the complaints registered through this helpline, proper action must be taken or a committee must visit the institution concerned and speak to the scholar within 20 days and a government-level action must be taken.

The copies of this set of suggestions were submitted to the Department of Higher Education and K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India on June 26. The team behind this includes six research scholars, from various research institutes of the country. Nikhil Gupta, a CBMR Researcher, who is also the National Representative and Coordinator of the Research Scholars of India is also a part of it. "It took us around 10 days to come up with these suggestions. These are based on the issues that we've been facing and the complaints that we received," says Nikhil.

There is also a section that talks about language-based biases. "In the research field, science does back the talking and hence there should not be an intentional display of power or otherwise any student be discriminated on the basis of being not able to speak a specific language properly," it says.

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