Published: 13th March 2019
Researchers' pockets still empty 42 days after government announced hike
Researchers have not received their stipend for anywhere between six months to one year even after a hike was announced on January 20, 2019
It's been 42 days since the government announced a hike in fellowship for research scholars in India but the monthly stipend is still pending for as long as one year for some scholars across institutes in India. The scholars who have been protesting for the last six months had their monthly remuneration hiked by 25 per cent on January 30, 2019, but that was not their only demand. They wanted regularisation of payment as well.
Nikhil Gupta, National Representative and Coordinator of Research Scholars of India and a research scholar at Centre of Biomedical Research, SGPGI, Lucknow, who spearheaded the movement said that he has not received his stipend since November 2018."I had to relentlessly e-mail the authorities for two months at a stretch to get paid for the August-October period in 2018 as well. There are students in institutes under agencies like CSIR and UGC, which include IITs and central universities, who have not received their monthly remuneration for almost a year. I have tried to approach the authorities. The only solutions I got were temporary," said Nikhil. "The students have been sending us e-mails saying that they have not received their stipends for months at a stretch. We too have responsibilities for our respective families along with ourselves. Is this how the government expects us to perform well?" added Nikhil.
Nikhil said that the scholars are frustrated since even after so many e-mail conversations and visits to CSIR there has been no change in the situation. "Does the government not have funds for investing in the R&D sector. They should let us know then. All the research scholars will have to resign. It will be best if we sell tea, juice and pakoda. That way we can at least feed ourselves and our family," said Nikhil. "Prakash Javdekar had announced that he had sanctioned Rs 250 crores for clearing backlogs in stipend payments and regularise the payment procedure," he added.
Nikhil said he will move the court soon and if any researcher who is also not receiving his or her stipends want to join, can mail him at bhartiyaresearchscholars@
While a JRF received a stipend of Rs 25,000 previously, they'll now receive Rs 31,000 and SRFs will receive Rs 35,000 instead of the previous Rs 28,000, announced the circular dated January 30, 2019. However, there is no mention of the postdoctoral fellows. The revisions were supposed to be in effect from January 1, 2019.
A look at the previous increments in stipends in 1999, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2014, showed that this is the lowest percentage of hike overall. The hikes were 60 per cent in 2006, 50 per cent in 2007, 33 per cent in 2010 and 56 per cent in 2014. The scholars all around the country expressed their disappointment at the hike, as they were demanding at least an 80 per cent hike.