Bengaluru

Research scholars go on hunger strike

Research scholars staging a protest at IISc. demanding a hike in fellowship stipend, in Bengaluru on Friday.

Research scholars staging a protest at IISc. demanding a hike in fellowship stipend, in Bengaluru on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain / The Hindu

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Express solidarity with arrested scholars

Students of premier institutions in the city, dressed in black, sat with their laptops and placards out on the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus on Friday as they went on a hunger strike to express solidarity with the research scholars who were arrested in New Delhi on Wednesday when they were protesting outside the HRD Ministry seeking a hike in fellowship stipend.

“The government has been talking of making India a place conducive for progress in research, but its reaction to our appeal for a stipend hike appears to contradict that claim,” said one student.

“We work close to 12 hours in research labs every day. We are not asking for a raise that we don’t deserve. If the government is putting all the brains behind bars for just asking for a hike, it will kill our aspirations to carry out research,” said one of the protesting students.

Research scholars gathered said currently, junior research fellows are given a stipend of ₹25,000, and senior research fellows ₹28,000. The nationwide demand from scholars has been a revision of stipend by 80%.

“We are done with fake assurances and empty promises. We need some system in place to revise the stipend every year. The government is aware of the 'brain drain' that is happening in India, and one of the main reasons behind this is the lack of adequate stipend,” said another research scholar from IISc.

Students also complained that the distribution of stipend was irregular, adding to their financial burden. “The stipends are not granted in a timely manner. The junior research fellowship for January only reached the scholars in May. There should be a stipulated time within which the distribution has to be made, otherwise it is extremely difficult for us to sustain ourselves while studying,” said a research fellow.

The discrepancy in stipend between those allotted by the Prime Minister Research Fund (PMRF), which awards research fellows ₹70,000 to ₹80,000 in comparison to ₹25,000 to ₹28,000 the others get, was also pointed out. “This difference in stipend causes huge disparity between students working in the same lab. It discourages us from working on our research. There should be an annual revision of stipend keeping all economic parameters in mind,” said another research fellow.

Several students from Raman Research Institute, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore University, Indian Institute of Astrophysics and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Research were also part of the protest.

Protesters are planning a human chain on Sunday if the situation is not resolved.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 6:29:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/research-scholars-go-on-hunger-strike/article26030764.ece

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