Published: 25th January 2019
Research Stipend Row: Harsh Vardhan evasive on how high the hike will be, blames Finance Department for delay
The Minister of Science and Technology at the same time refused to say if there will be an 80 pc hike in the stipend — while speaking at an event at IIT Madras
Protesting researchers will have to wait a few more days to find out what is happening with their stipend hike. Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science, Technology, & Earth Sciences on Friday said that the government has "fast-tracked" processing the researchers' demands, but the delays in the financial department are unpredictable. "It is in a fast track process. But the financial department takes its own time. It won't take too much time though," he said. He also said that the hike will be done in a satisfactory manner, even though he refused to say if there will be an 80 per cent hike, as demanded by the scholars. He added that as soon as the government took charge, it hiked the research stipend for the scholars, in 2014.
Relentless Appeal: Students across the country have been consistently protesting and demanding a fee hike
The minister was speaking at the inaugural launch of three centres set up by the department of science and technology at IIT Madras. The researchers in the country have been protesting in various institutes, since January 16 for a hike in their stipend and a timely disbursal of fellowships. Despite the promises of Vijay Raghavan, Department of Science and Technology Secretary, Ashutosh Sharma, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science and Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of HRD and Prime Minister Narendra Modi there has been no response to the demands the researchers had made.
The student delegation of protesting scholars had previously met the minister on December 24. He then agreed to the terms and is believed to be agreeable for increasing the stipends for KVPI and INSPIRE.
The protesting researchers aren't too enthused though. "Even three months ago, we were told that everything will be done in a fast track manner. The government departments are just blaming each other. If a fast track process is being this delayed, what about the other processes by the government?" said Nikhil Gupta, National Representative and Coordinator of Research Scholars of India.