Published: 06th February 2020
A year after the fellowship hike protests, plenty of researchers across India haven't got their stipends ever since
An IIT Delhi researcher has started an open Google Document to get an exact number of research scholars who are yet to receive their stipends
One year after the #HikeResearchFellowship protests rocked the country, plenty of researchers have been complaining that they are yet to get their original stipend — let alone the raise. In 2019, we had written about how a large number of research scholars in the country haven't been receiving their fellowship stipends for months. This was prior to the then HRD Ministry's decision to hike the researchers' stipend by 25 per cent, after the latter protested for around nine months. However, a year down the line, researchers tell us that a lot of them still haven't received their stipends for months.
In fact, an IIT Delhi researcher Vickey Nandal has now started an Google Document, to collect data about which researchers have not received finds and in which institutes and submit it to the Department of Science and Technology. Just 24 hours after he created the document, Vickey says that more than 200 research scholars from institutes across the country have filled it up. "I have been receiving a lot of messages from scholars about this issue. So, we thought of creating a list of scholars and submitting it to the authorities," he says.
He notes that most of these scholars are from CSIR institutes. "We will raise the issue with the authorities at the earliest. We will send a letter to the CSIR and talk to the IIT Delhi Director," he says.
One of the scholars to fill up the document was Ramgopal Prajapati, a researcher in IIT Delhi, he tells us that it has been close to a year since he received his stipend. "I last received my stipend in March 2019," he tells us over a phone call. "I received the hiked stipend for two months. However, after that I got no money," he adds. Even though Ramgopal never complained, he had written emails to the concerned authorities. However, he says that none of them yielded a helpful response. "I never received the stipend even for the month of April 2018. I was told that the money was sent, but I never received it," he says.
"I've now lost all hope in the system. I don't know if I'll even get the pending money," he says. He also says that his daily survival has become quite difficult lately. "I am tired of borrowing money from friends and peers. That is how I've been surviving," he says. "This stipend was the only means of survival for my family too. So, like many of my peers, I cannot even ask them for money. So, every month, I approach my friends for money," he says.
He is not alone.
Anamika Kumari joined IISER Mohali in August 2019 as a CSIR scholar. Not once in these past six months has she received her fellowship stipend, she tells us. "I have tried calling the CSIR office many times to raise this issue. However, no one ever answers the phone," she says. "However, the institute has assured me that it will be disbursed soon," she adds. Unlike Ramgopal, Anamika is still hopeful about her stipend disbursal. However, she says, "Survival isn't quite difficult for me, considering I'm married. But the case isn't the same for most of my classmates. This is their only source of income," she says.
We have sent an email to Dr Shekhar C Mande, Director, CSIR seeking a comment on this issue and to find out if the agency has taken steps to resolve the issue. This copy will be updated once he responds.