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Research Scholars Protest Against Arrests of Over 2,000 Fellows at MHRD

As their demand of a hike in fellowship still remains unmet, researchers across the country plan to strengthen their movement by going on an indefinite hunger strike in early February until their demands are met.
Research Scholars Protest

On January 17, research scholars from IIT-Bombay and several other eminent institutes protested against the arrest of 2,000 researchers at the Ministry of Human Resource Development on January 16.

The All India Research Scholars Association (AIRSA) and research fellows from across the country had started protesting, demanding a hike in stipend, in front of the MHRD's headquarters in New Delhi from 11 a.m. on January 16, 2019.

The researchers are demanding a hike in the monthly stipend from Rs. 25,000 for JRF fellows to Rs. 50,000; and Rs. 28,000 for SRF fellows to Rs. 56,000, along with an annual inflation-based increment. Their demands also include timely distribution of funds and a system to ensure it.

On December 21, 2018, a nationwide protest had been called demanding the same.

Also Read: Research Scholars Protest, Demand Hike in Fellowship

Vicky Nandal, IIT-Delhi research fellow told The Indian Express, “We were told that the secretary will meet us at 4 p.m. We were preparing a delegation of representatives when some policemen approached us and said that we have to vacate the site immediately. As we denied, we were asked to sit inside the police buses.”

Jadupati Nag, a research scholar pursuing a PhD in Physics from IIT Bombay told NewsClick, “This time all IITs will join us in the indefinite hunger strike, as we need to increase the pressure on the government. We are planning to organise the hunger strike in early February and hope other institutes will follow. Our strike won’t stop until our demands are met. Many professors are in our support and they are planning to get involved by giving public lectures.”

Around 2,000 research scholars plan to shift base to Jantar Mantar for the indefinite hunger strike, which will be carried also in their campuses nationwide.

The research scholars of the country have received nothing but false promises of a speedy solution so far from principal scientific advisor K Vijay Raghavan; Department of Science and Technology (DST) Secretary, Ashutosh Sharma; Union Minister DST, Dr. Harsh Vardhan; and Union Minister of MHRD, Prakash Javadekar.

Also Read: Death of the University, Indian Style!

The rigorous efforts by the government to create roadblocks for students coming from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds and to make higher education inaccessible by making it an expensive, elite and exclusive proposition, have led to several protests by students and scholars from all over the country over the past four years and the students have resolved to intensify these protests in the coming days.

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