Research scholars are still not satisfied and feel the revised hikes of around 20% overlook the ground realities of increasing expenditure.
With the UGC notifying revised fellowship amounts of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Senior Research Fellowships (SRF) in Science, Humanities and Social Science, effective from January 1, 2019, the response from scholars and academicians are mixed while considering the ground realities.
“The revised hike should come as a relief, but since all junior and senior research fellows have to pay a consolidated fee of Rs 50,000 (which includes mess, hostel and tuition fees) per semester (where each is of six months duration) such a revision seems like a drop in ocean,” says Priyankar Chand, senior research scholar, pursuing PhD at the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE), IIT-Bombay.
Post the hike, the JRFs will get a monthly stipend of Rs31,000 per month as compared to their current Rs 25,000 per month, while the senior research fellows would be entitled to Rs 35,000 per month from the current Rs 28,000 per month.
Additionally, the House Rent Allowance (HRA) at the revised rate of 8%, 16% and 24 % would be allowed as per the government of India norms depending on the city/location where the research fellows are working.
Priyankar feels the recent hikes may have been a result of the protests staged by research scholars from institutes across India, including the IITs, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), etc. “But while the demand was for a hike of 50% in stipends, the revised hike comes to around 20% which is far from adequate.”
This is the second such hike in recent years. Before this, the last hike happened in 2014 when it was increased to Rs 25,000 from Rs 16,000 for JRFs and Rs 28,000 from Rs 18,000 for the SRFs.
“The burden is on scholars like us to manage our own transportation and often the lodging as well. The fellowship hike overlooks practical aspects such as travelling costs (to attend seminars, conferences, etc.) that have increased manifold,” says Rupak Kumar, junior research PhD scholar from the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
“Another tiring aspect of the JRF is the never ending wait for the disbursal of the scholarship. It is rare that JRF amount is credited to the scholar’s account timely,” says Rupak.
Contrary to the scholars’ opinions, Shantanu Roy, associate dean (PG Research), IIT Delhi, says, “The stipend is fairly good because it is tax free. Many of the scholars stay on campus due to long working hours, and receive subsidised accommodation in hostels. The government must have done due deliberations before fixing the fellowship amounts.”
Students’ stipends in Phd courses, says Roy, is less all over the world. “Stipends are money for students’ subsistence and regular needs and not a salary like in firms. They have chosen this field of their own volition. The real incentive lies in working on new-age technologies for better career prospects.”
Respected Source – TOI