Over the next few days, the Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani will receive postcards from scholars across the country urging her to reconsider the decision to scrap fellowships for researchers in central universities. The postcard campaign, which started on Wednesday, is led by All India Students’ Association. Other organisations that launched the Occupy UGC agitation in October are expected to join forces to convey their message.

"The campaign has been kicked off in various states, including Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and it will be started in other states soon. This is our representation, and if the review committee wants to hear more from us, they should contact us directly.", said Ashutosh Kumar, Delhi state secretary of AISA, in response to the review committee's comments that "students did not give a representation".

In October, the ministry had decided to reconsider scholarships for 35,000 students across the country who were receiving monthly stipends to pursue their research programmes without having to pass the National Eligibility Test. The decision prompted students to launch the Occupy UGC protests directed against the University Grants Commission and the HRD ministry.

Even though the HRD ministry claimed that all existing fellowships will continue and the change will only affect future scholars, students claimed that it was yet another bid to discourage research and scholarship in the country, particularly in the humanities.

As part of the protests, students organised sit-in outside the University Grants Commission office at New Delhi’s ITO for several weeks. While the protesting students regularly reported being detained or beaten up by the police, some of them travelled across the country to get people from other universities to support their agitation.

Recently, it appeared that the agitation may have quieted down, with fading media attention. But the protesters are not yet willing to give up on their demands. AISA kicked off the postcard campaign in Delhi early Wednesday morning by printing up blank postcards addressed directly to Irani. Several students came by to write messages to the minister.

While some asked for the fellowships to be continued and linking the stipend amount to the rate of inflation, others questioned the government’s motive behind opening up the education sector for foreign players as part of the World Trade Organisation negotiations which recently concluded in Nairobi, Kenya.

Stop the commercialisation of education, says one postcard. Another makes an emotional appeal for the fellowships to be continued since “not all students can afford expensive higher education without financial support”. The campaign will also be accompanied by protests outside the ministry in Delhi starting Wednesday.

"AISA will continue the postcard campaign for a week and submit all the postcards to the HRD Minister, who has to take a final decision, based on the review committee's report and the ongoing student protests," the student body said in a statement.

Here are some of the pictures of the campaign.