Research Scholars of India Are in Great Plight: an Appeal by the UGC Fellowships Forum

UGC Fellowships Forum

Since the Narendra Modi Government has taken its charge, many students of this country are in great trouble. It’s not just because of the widely discussed issues like suicide of Rohith Vemula at UoH and incarceration of Kanhaiya Kumar and his friends at JNU. Apart from these well publicised instances of regime backed atrocities – there are several other issues like fund cuts in education and attempts at saffronisation of higher education by appointing people with RSS backgrounds in important positions are some significant matters which many are bothered about.

Further, one of the serious matters which directly affecting the researchers is fellowship. The debates regarding UGC Non Net Fellowship and UGC’s messing up with it is well known. After several protests throughout the country, the HRD Ministry did set up a committee. The report of the committee was supposed to come in December but researchers are still waiting for the same. The ‘unqualified’ humbug minister seems to be underperformer too. Further, many ongoing fellowship schemes are also in great danger since many of them are being mismanaged in the last two years. The late disbursement system and several months without any fellowships are plaguing the students.

Fellowship schemes like MANF, RGNF and so on are dysfunctional for a long time. Last year some students did visit to UGC and other concerned ministries and were promised that the schemes will run as per law thenceforth, but unfortunately it did not happen. As of now thousand scholars of the country have not received their fellowship for many months. For example the scholars under the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) scheme for minority students are without fellowship from last October – November. Other schemes like RGNF SC, RGNF ST, RGNF OBC and so on are also running late. Most unfortunately fellowship for disabled students has not been released since last July. In these circumstances these research scholars are in great distress.

This repeated late disbursement of fellowships affect thousands of research scholars of the country. Most of the scholars solely depend on fellowship for their needs. Thus, if the fellowship amount is not credited on time, it becomes very difficult to sustain. Researchers literally witness times when they do not have money to support ourselves. Students feel really dejected that they have been pushed down to the level of beggars who have to petition every month for what rightfully deserve as legal entitlements as research scholars. Energy and time are lost much in this process which can otherwise be utilized for fruitful research. Researchers are not even able to concentrate on research, as are constantly worried about the lack of money for basic needs.

Now, whom to blame for all this? Is the assigned Canara Bank and the system or the bureaucracy of UGC responsible? Are the ministries responsible or the entire Govt. itself? Students call and beg to Canara Bank, UGC and Ministries almost every day for the pending money they deserve and when the power leaves them baffled with a mutual blame game, they do not know what to do to get the problem resolved. Researchers wait almost endlessly every month but the hostel authorities will not wait for the mess fees to be remitted; the university authorities will not wait for the tuition fees to be paid; the labs cannot wait for the essential chemicals, tools and instruments to be used from time to time.

This might sound little emotional but it’s the ground reality of the researchers in India. Sometime many wonder and regret of the choice of research over other promising career which would have at least not left them in a situation like this. Please imagine when the employees don’t get salary during the first week of the month. Students appeal not punish them more for choosing to face the challenges of a career in research to contribute to the academic development of the country. Here, it is to be noted that one of the significant reasons mentioned by Rohith Vemula in the tract going around as his ‘suicide note’ for his fatal decision was monetary problems. His pending fellowship was finally disbursed after his death. We would like to ask whether the Ministries, the UGC and the other powers that be whether they want mass suicides to occur across educational campuses of the country.

Thus, we request the concerned authorities at UGC, at various ministries, and power holders at the Govt. to look into the pathetic situation and do the needful at the earliest to resolve the late disbursement of our fellowships. Please act immediately to solve our problem; please give us our monthly fellowship at least within the first week of every month; please let us do our work peacefully and properly.