The 2016 Irom Sharmila Scholarship was jointly awarded to Rohit Vemula (posthumously) of the Ambedkar Studies Association, Hyderabad Central University, and the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU). The cheques were received by the Joint Action Committee on behalf of Mr. Vemula, and JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.
According to JNUTA president Ajay Patnaik, who handed over the scholarships, “the award goes to them as student representatives/ bodies seeking to strengthen India’s constitutional democracy by upholding the constitutional ideals of fraternity, equality and right to life, and inspiring many others across the country”.
The Irom Sharmila Scholarship was instituted by a Delhi University professor in 2012. Professor Nandini Sundar from the university’s Faculty of Social Science was the brain behind the scholarship, which is open to any post-graduate student (M.A. or Ph.D) enrolled in any educational institution in Delhi, pursuing any subject, and who comes from a region with internal armed conflict — such as the Northeast, Kashmir and Central India.
The award is based on a combination of financial need, academic merit, contribution to society and suffering as a result of armed conflict. The scholarship amount is Rs. 50,000, or Rs. 60,000 if shared.
Meanwhile, Irom Sharmila expresses solidarity with the students through a video message that was relayed on the occasion. “I think building a university is just like a temple for young minds. So why should the government or any authority restrict their thoughts and debates? I extend my solidarity to students’ democratic, progressive movements and to voices of dissent on university campuses seeking justice for Rohith Vemula and other students,” said Ms. Sharmila.
A 22-year-old Kashmiri student, Iymon Majeed, was the first recipient of the scholarship in 2013. A student of M.A.(Political Science) at Jamia Millia Islamia, he has been writing about his experience of Kashmir under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
Activist expresses solidarity with students through a video message that was played
on the campus