HRD says spent Rs 250 cr to clear backlog of scholars

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar

The Union Human Resource Development Ministry on Wednesday said it bore a “positive” outlook on the research scholars' demands of increasing their fellowship.

The ministry also claimed that nearly Rs 250 crore was spent in the recent months to clear the backlog of students not receiving their scholarships in time.

Research scholars in India's top educational institutions are on protest demanding a hike in their fellowship amount, which was not revised since 2014.

The students met top officials like Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijayraghavan, and Department of Science and Technology Secretary Ashutosh Sharma, but so far there is no information from the government.

The institutions where students hit the streets include, the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru; the Indian Institute of Technologies and laboratories under DRDO and CSIR.

“We are positive on their demand. We want to remove any difficulties being faced by the students,” the minister said, when asked about the steps being taken by the government to address the research scholars' concerns.

The fellowship was last revised by the government in 2014 when it was hiked by 56% after four years. Since 1999, the emoluments were hiked three times.

Students, who were holding a nation-wide campaign for a rise, submitted a memorandum of demands to the Human Resource Development Ministry, Department of Science and Technology and University Grants Commission.

Javadekar said one of the demands of the students was to receive the fellowship in time as there was a delay of four to six months.

“We have revived the system. From November 1, 2018, the fellowships are being credited to the student's account by the 30th of every month. We used a special grant of Rs 250 crore to clear the backlog,” he said.

The minister said nearly 2.44 lakh students will be benefited from regular disbursement of fellowships given by the UGC; All India Council for Technical Education and the HRD ministry.

The fellowships to be impacted include — Means and Merit Scholarship, under which 1.28 lakh students receive a fellowship of Rs 10,000 per year; GATE, under which 35,000 MTech students receive Rs 12,500 every month from AICTE; Junior Research Fellowship, under which 30,000 PhD students get Rs 28,000-35,000 every month.

The minister didn't speak on the Senior Research Fellowship.

Three other scholarships to be impacted after streamlining are — 5,000 Jammu and Kashmir students who receive Rs 1.3-Rs 4 lakh for their higher education like engineering and medicine; 21,000 Northeast students who receive Rs 2.5 lakh per year for higher education; PG scholarship for single girl students where 30,000 girl students receive Rs 37,000 each year.

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HRD says spent Rs 250 cr to clear backlog of scholars

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