Researchers get big scholarship hike

Researchers get big scholarship hike

On the eve of Deepavali, the Centre has substantially increased the scholarship for more than 70,000 research students, who demanded better pay package for pursuing a career in science.

The new scholarships take retrospective effect from October 1. Science students undertaking PhD and post-doctoral studies will receive better stipend from the government along with other facilities like house rent allowance and medical benefits.

Under the new package, junior research fellowship has been enhanced to Rs 25,000 from Rs 16,000, while senior research fellowship goes up to Rs 28,000 from the existing Rs 18,000.

The hike for post doctoral studies will be from Rs 22,000 to Rs 36,000 (for research associate-1), from Rs 23,000 to Rs 38,000 (research associate-2) and from Rs 24,000 to Rs 40,000 (research associate-3).

While research associate 1 and 2 are generally for one year, research associate-3 can continue the work till the person gets a position in a research institute. For comparison, the entry-level salary at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is about Rs 50,000.

“This is the biggest ever increase in the scholarship for research students,” said Union Science Minister Jitendra Singh.

The new scheme will benefit almost 71,000 young scientists working in scientific organisations under the central government.

The additional financial outgo will be Rs 750 crore every year, which the Finance Ministry has approved.

Currently, Rs 1,663 crore is spent annually on the scholarships. “The action taken by the government suggests that things can be changed if we put in efforts,” Anjali Khatri, a research scholar at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Delhi told Deccan Herald.

She was among the research students who held demonstration outside the department of science and technology in July, demanding better scholarships.
Several protests
Several protests and demonstrations were held in academic institutes across the country, including in Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chandigarh, compelling the government to revise the fellowships.
“One of our demands, for inflation-linked annual increase, has not been met. We will discuss it with the government,” Khatri said.
The last revision was in 2010 when students of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, sat on a hunger strike.

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