Citing COVID-19 and economic crisis, the State government has abruptly cut the fellowship and maintenance cost of minority communities research scholars from the academic year 2022-23.
According to a recent Government Order, the minority research scholars will get ₹10,000 for Ph.D and ₹8,000 for M.Phil fellowship per month from this year. Earlier, it was ₹25,000 fellowship per month and ₹10,000 annual maintenance cost for both streams.
The State government is providing the fellowship for Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, and Parsi communities since 2017.
The government has defended its decision that they are providing the same amount for fellowship for SC/ST students through the Social Welfare department and the same criteria is being followed for the minorities research scholars.
The Director of Minority Welfare Department had submitted a proposal to the Deputy Secretary of the department requesting for ₹9.19 crore additional amount for the fellowship of the scholars. But the Finance department rejected the proposal on August 5.
Earlier, the government had cut the minority communities research scholars fellowship by 66% in the academic year 2019-20. Following outrage, the government restored the fellowship amount. However, the government has not paid the fellowship amount since two years.
The new order will be effected from 2022-23 for new applicants. Scholars of 2021-22 academic year will get the existing fellowship amount of ₹25,000 per month and ₹10,000 as maintenance cost per annum.
Ateeq, a Ph.D aspirant from Mandya, told The Hindu: “We see very few people enrolled in higher education from minority communities. Only a few enter the research field. The order will lend a major setback to the minority research aspirants. The amount will not be enough for research work, hostel fee, and other charges.”
Raghavendara T., director, Minority Welfare Department, said: “Year after year, the number of aspirants and applicants have increased for M.Phil and Ph.D from minority communities. The government is eager to accommodate every applicant and has taken the decision to reduce the cost of fellowship.”