More than two weeks after protests were held in front of the headquarters of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in Delhi, research scholars of IISc, Bengaluru held a hunger strike on Friday at the campus. A total of 300 research scholars registered for the protest and sat in front of the instituteâ€™s main building from 8am until evening chanting slogans and holding placards.
The cause of the protests, however, remains the same. The researchers who are currently paid Rs 25,000 and Rs 28,000 as junior research fellowships (JRF) and senior research fellowships (SRF) every month want it to be hiked by 80%. The last revision of the stipend was in 2014. Moreover, some of the researchers do not get their fellowship stipend on time making it difficult to lead their daily lives.
â€śWith the kind of inflation we are currently experiencing, it is very difficult for us to lead normal lives from a financial point of view. The hike of the fellowship amount is our primary demand,â€ť Vivek, the Chairman of the Students Council who is pursuing research at IIScâ€™s Centre for Product Design and Management, told TNM.
â€śDuring the last four years, there has been no hike in the fellowships, but state and central government employees have got their periodic increment and DA. We are also demanding timely disbursement of the fellowships as there are many research scholars who are denied their rightful fellowships,â€ť he added.
Prior to the protests in Delhi, the students had approached the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office and a letter to the same effect was also submitted to the PMO. But there has been no acknowledgement of their demand.
Dr Pramod Nittur, a student leader and part of the Democratic Research Scholar Organisation, blamed the current central government for this ill-treatment for researches.
â€śThe central government is reducing budgets for research while on the other hand, unscientific statements are being encouraged in the Indian Science Congress. The government does not want real research. It is also condemnable that students who were protesting in Delhi were lathi-charged. If there is no research, how will technology develop? Talent has to be encouraged instead they are making everything privatised meaning students have to pay more,â€ť he said.