Research scholars from across the country staged a protest outside the Union Human Resource Development Ministry in New Delhi on Wednesday demanding an increase in their fellowship allowances, PTI reported. While the police claim the protest was peaceful, The Indian Express quoted unidentified officials saying that 700 protestors were detained and sent to two police stations.
Around 2,000 protestors participated in the demonstration, doctoral student Vickey Nandal told The Hindu. The protestors include members of the All India Research Scholars Association and others. They also staged a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
“Some of us plan to go on an indefinite hunger strike till our demands are met,” Nikhil Gupta, the national representative of Research Scholars of India said. “We have been demanding an 80% hike in our fellowships applicable from April 2018.”
Gupta said the hunger strike will be a major part of their protest. “There have been too many fake promises made to us,” he added. “No more tweets and no more trying to divide us on the basis of caste, funding agencies or examinations. We have written way too many letters to the departments but have not got any relief so far.”
Research scholars of Rajiv Gandhi University in Arunachal Pradesh too carried out a peaceful protest march at the university campus in Itanagar, Northeast Now reported. “The hike is supposed to happen, automatically, after every four years and even as the HRD minister’s assurance of fulfilling scholars’ demand last year on December 27, there is no development,” said Kosen Jida, the general secretary of research scholar forum at the university.
A group of research scholars had purportedly met Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar earlier in December. He had promised to address their demands.
Researchers with Junior Research Fellowship, a renowned fellowship offered by the state-run Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, purportedly get Rs 25,000 each, The Hindu reported. “Is there anybody in the government who can explain how a research scholar will be able to run his/her family and fulfil even the basic necessities of a family with such a small amount,” a statement by the protestors asked.