Students protesting the University Grants Commission’s decision to not offer fellowships to M.Phil and Ph.D students, who are pursuing research in various central universities but have not cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET), continued their “Occupy UGC” demonstration for the second day on Thursday.
A large number of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University and other institutions sat on a dharna inside the UGC premises demanding that the authorities restore the fellowships. The agitation began on Wednesday afternoon, with the protesters entering the UGC office and staying there all night.
Students also painted a graffiti saying ‘Education is not for sale’ in black ink inside the UGC premises.
“Our protest and ‘Occupy UGC’ demonstration will continue till our demands are met and the fellowships restored,” said All India Students Association (AISA) state secretary Ashutosh Kumar.
Students from the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union also burnt an effigy of the UGC and Modi government on the premises.
“We resolve to continue this struggle against curtailment of non-NET fellowships till our demands are met. This struggle is an unprecedented show of dissent against fund-cut. For the first time, hundreds of students have taken over a major educational establishment to protest against reduction of education budget,” said a member of the JNUSU.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) also condemned the UGC decision. “The DUTA strongly condemns the UGC’s latest decision to discontinue the non-NET fellowships for M.Phil and Ph.D students from the next academic session. Ironically, the recommendation to do away with these fellowships was made by an expert committee constituted earlier in the year to make a proper framework for implementation of the non-NET fellowships and look at the possibilities of enhancement of these fellowships,” said a DUTA statement.
“DUTA believes that such a move will be extremely detrimental to the cause of research in our country. Thousands of research scholars were able to conduct their research work banking primarily on these non-NET fellowships. The UGC’s present move will have disastrous consequences for research as students henceforth will be deprived of even this minimal support for doing research,” it added.
The protesting students have demanded that the authorities restore the fellowships