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Was ‘Jai Anusandhan’ a Jumla?

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Opinion | Komal Badodekar

Few days back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a slogan to ‘Jai Anusandhan’ (hail research). The was on 3rd January, 2019. At the 106th Indian Science Congress in Jalandhar, speaking on ‘Future of India: Science and Technology’, the Prime Minister said that the life and work of Indian scientists is a great example of the integration of deep and fundamental insights and nation building.

During this speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also added ‘Jai Anusandhan’ in row of slogans ‘Jai Jawan Jai kisan’ by Lal Bahadur Shashtri and ‘Jai Vigyan’ by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his speech. He called for preparing action plans to promote research in college and state universities.

The Prime Minister said that it is important to focus on innovation and startup. He also said that compared to last 40 years more work has been done in last four years in the field of technology business. He said, “Today’s the new slogan – Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan. I would like to add Jai Anusandhan to it.

He said, “We need a powerful scheme for industrialization of our research and development achievements through industrial products.” He also said that future belongs to joint technologies that will bring things together. He said, “Our powers in research and development are built on the basis of our national laboratories, central universities, IITs, IISc, TIFR, IISER, AIIMS etc.”

Dear Prime Minister, you seem to have so much knowledge about research, then why is it that thousands of researchers in the country have been demanding increase in fellowship over the past several months but have gained no attention from you or your government. On one hand, you are hailing research and development and progress of the country and gave the slogan of ‘Jai Anusandhan’, on the other hand, more than one lakh five thousand students across the country are waiting for you to speak on this matter.

Government primary education was already in bad condition, now private schools in almost every area have made their situation worse. Where we are talking about becoming world leader but are ignoring the important and basic needs of higher education. Researchers across the country are bounded to protest on roads.

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Researchers on the same fellowship for the past four years
JRF (Junior Research Fellowship), SRF (Senior Research Fellowship), PDF (Post Doctoral Fellowship), GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test) by CSIR (Science and Industrial Research Council), UGC (University Grants Commission), DBT (Department of Biotechnology) In these engineering), non-NET (non-net fellowship), many other government departments, offer fellowship to the researchers, but for the last four years, they are working on the same scholarship.

Should researchers make a union like railways?
Should the researchers make their own union like bank or railways? That leaves all their work in library and call for bandh. Like trains are stopped or sudden strike of banks. When the matter goes out of hand the government regains its consciousness whether the railway or the bank union is on the strike. By the time government comes in action the situation already becomes serious.

Has the government become poor?
In spite several meetings and handing over memorandums to all the top officials, including the Central Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar from Central Science and Technology and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Earth Science Minister and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, till now concrete results came out. All that came from government is assurances. Has government really become poor or they have no scheme or is there any compulsion that despite getting three-three deadline all what research scholars got was assurance. Now these students are on indefinite nationwide strike from January 16.

No political advantage like the upper-caste reservation?
After all, why the government say nothing on the actions taken yet from the time of memorandums handed to them till now. Has the government really taken any initiatives towards this matter and where has this work reached? Or they don’t see any political advantage like in upper-caste reservation formula prior to Lok Sabha elections in these researchers? Many such questions answers for which researchers are eagerly waiting for.

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National Eligibility Test (NET), Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) passed by the UGC in the fellowship for the last time was increased by about 55% last time. The UGC increased the amount of nearly 15 fellowships and scholarships for higher education to 55 percent and implemented it from December 1, 2014.

Fellowship amount now
According to the new rules implemented in 2014, where JRF and SRF students used to get Rs 16000 and Rs 18,000 per month respectively, they are now getting Rs 25000 and Rs 28000 respectively. Along with this 20 percent housing allowance is also ensured. While for basic scientific research (BSR) in the first and second years, Rs 16,000 has been increased to Rs 24,800 per month. Whereas, in the third, fourth and fifth years of fellowship, instead of 18,000 rupees per month Rs. 27,900 per month is given.

Main demands of the researchers –

  1. Fellowship amount of the JRF, SRF, PhD people must be increased by 80 per cent as it was supposed to be increased by 20 per cent per annum.
  2. The amount received under Fellowship must come on time every month, because till now the money does not come on time. Scholars receive it after three months, six months or even 8 months.
  3. The government must set up such guidelines under the Pay Commission, to ensure that the researchers under fellowships can receive the fellowship amount every month without any delay.