IISc students write to Modi on fellowship hike

Delivering the inaugural speech at the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about freeing research scholars from the hassles of “government procedures” so as to help them concentrate on science.

However, an open letter to the prime minister by students of the City-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc), highlighting their struggle for a fellowship hike and suggesting a number of measures to improve conditions for those who want to take up research in science as their career, shows that this aim of the prime minister is still a long way away. 

A hike of nearly 50 per cent was recently announced by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) after a long and sustained struggle by research scholars all over the country.

However, they were stumped when they realised that the hike would be implemented from October 2014 onwards (in case of DST) and December 2014 onwards (according to the UGC notification). Their demand for implementing the hikes from April 2014 onwards, just like previous instances, has not been fulfilled.

“We are still struggling for a notification from many other departments and there is complete uncertainty about all those fellowships. This has unfortunately forced us to explore the mysteries of government procedures leaving behind our science,” reads the letter.

It goes on to say that research scholars all over the country are “highly disappointed by such an attitude of the government, forcing them to contemplate a nationwide protest in the coming days.”

The letter makes suggestions on a number of points such as streamlining the system of having annual increment in fellowship based on a formula and all the funding agencies to issue a notification soon after the DST, so that research scholars “don’t have to explore the mysteries of government procedures every three to four years.”


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