A tweet from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has inflicted fresh wounds on research scholars all over India. Yesterday, May 10, the DST mentioned it was working on the scholars’ demands and would resolve the matter soon, asking them to have patience. Already frustrated over the department’s lacklustre response to their previous demonstrations, the scholars now plan protests.
Scholars have three principal demands:
1. Regular disbursement of fellowships As of now, scholars receive their fellowships once every 3-6 months, which makes it difficult for them to focus on research, said Dr Vishwakarma. “One has to constantly worry about money and surviving amidst expenses,” he added.
2. Hike in fellowships
The scholars want that the fellowships hiked every 4 years, keeping in tune with the increasing expenses. The last hike was made in 2018, which called for another to be completed last year. But it didn’t happen, despite multiple representations from AIRSA.
3. Infrastructure to check harassment issues
“Already two students died by suicide in IIT Madras recently, and many more such incidents have been heard of previously. Scholars are harassed at their institutions by the administration, faculty and even fellow students. A majority of such issues are not even reported. We want the government to take this seriously and establish a mechanism to check such incidents,” Dr Vishwakarma explained.
In a nutshell, scholars want a “healthy and prosperous environment” for research. They already held a nationwide protest over their demands in February this year. Now, another series of protests is likely to follow.