CHENNAI: Research scholars and PhD students of IIT Madras have written to the Central government seeking hike in stipend. A total of 1,800 research students have signed a written petition addressed to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), University Grants Commission (UGC), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.
In the petition, a copy of which was shared with the Express, research scholars have asked for nearly doubling the stipend for Junior Research Fellow (JRF) and Senior Research Fellow (SRF). Currently a JRF receives Rs 25,000 per month and a SRF is paid Rs 28,000. “This should be enhanced to Rs 45,000 and Rs 55,000, respectively.”
“The economic development of a country has a strong correlation with the research and developmental efforts, which in turn, require more manpower. To increase manpower in research, the stipends given to students should be attractive. IIT Madras is ranked first in the NIRF ranking, but the salary of researchers has not been considered for regular revision as is the case in other top-ranked universities,” the petition reads.
A senior research fellow of IIT Madras told the Express that current emoluments under MHRD, DST, DBT, CSIR and UGC and other government scholarships for PhD programme, were revised in 2014 after a request from students. For M.Tech/MS research scholars, the stipend paid is a paltry Rs 12,400.
“Due to inflation, the expenditure such as tuition fee, hostel and amenities charges, mess charges and logistics expenses borne by students, are increasing year by year. Research scholars have opted for research at the cost of their work life and family life to contribute to the research ecosystem of the country. But, it is unfortunate that the revision of PhD research scholarship is rarely taken as a serious matter.
Under Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF), research is paid Rs 70,000. However, the beneficiaries under the scheme are few. The difference in the stipend under different schemes from the same PhD programme shows huge inequality,” students allege. As per UNESCO Institute of Statistics, India has 216.2 researchers per million inhabitants as in 2015, raised from 152.5 in 1996. On the contrary, China’s number has increased from 438.4 in 1996 to 1,200 in 2015.
The students also demanded that PhD personnel be included in the list of categories considered under the pay commission revision which ensures dearness allowance and annual salary revision hike. “A scholarship revision scheme which includes costs of living and inflation rates is required,” they demanded.