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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

IIT Delhi: Protest against stipend hike delay

Hundreds of protesting students demanded the institute subsidise their mess charges, which were raised by nearly 40 per cent last July

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 11.04.23, 05:37 AM
Among the protesters, those pursuing MTech and PhD courses asked the institute to take up with the government the subject of increasing their stipends, a student said.

Among the protesters, those pursuing MTech and PhD courses asked the institute to take up with the government the subject of increasing their stipends, a student said. Sourced by the Telegraph

A student demonstration at IIT Delhi on Monday against increased mess charges spilled over into a protest also against the government’s delay in increasing the stipends for research scholars, an issue agitating campuses across the country.

The hundreds of protesting students demanded the institute subsidise their mess charges, which were raised by nearly 40 per cent last July.

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Among the protesters, those pursuing MTech and PhD courses asked the institute to take up with the government the subject of increasing their stipends, a student said.

The research scholars underlined that the fellowship amount for doctoral students had stayed unchanged for four years, and that for master’s students for eight years, despite inflation causing their living expenses to spiral.

“The government should increase our fellowship stipend. Till then, the hike (in mess charges) should be on hold,” said a PhD student who did not wish to be identified.

Mandeep Singh, vice-president of the All India Research Scholars Association, said the organisation was carrying out an online movement for the revision of the fellowship amount.

“The standard principle is that a revision should happen every four years. After the 2014 revision, the next revision was due in 2018 and then in 2022. Now we are in 2023 but there has been no revision since the delayed one of 2019,” Singh said.

“With the government delaying a revision, researchers are looking for opportunities abroad. This is fuelling the brain drain too.”

An education ministry official said the ministry had received representations from students and was considering increasing the fellowship stipend.

Singh, however, said that such revisions should happen automatically instead of the scholars being forced to start an agitation.

A PhD student selected for the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) gets Rs 31,500 per month for the first two years and Rs 35,000 a month for the next three years. This amount was fixed in 2019.

The monthly JRF fellowship in 1999 was Rs 6,000 and was increased in 2006 to Rs 8,000 for the first two years and Rs 10,000 for the next three years. The amounts were revised to Rs 12,000 and Rs 14,000 in 2007, to Rs 16,000 and Rs 18,000 in 2010, and to Rs 25,000 and Rs 28,000 in 2014.

MTech students have been receiving Rs 12,400 a month since 2015. The previous stipend was Rs 8,000 a month, fixed in 2010.

An IIT Delhi official said the institute had promised to look into the demand for a mess subsidy, but the students — who run their hostel mess by themselves — would first have to come up with an acceptable model for mess management.

From July 2022, the mess charges per day have been raised from Rs 170 to Rs 230, with the institute “justifying the hike citing inflation and the increase in worker wages”, the PhD student said.

IIT Bombay too increased its mess charges by 10 per cent last December.

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