The government has hiked the stipends for basic science researchers--Junior Research Fellows, Senior Research Fellows and Research Associates. The Department of Science and Technology, the nodal department for deciding emoluments and service guidelines for research fellowships in basic science stream, has announced the hike. Junior research fellows who have qualified CSIR NET, GATE and other national level exams will receive Rs 31,000 per month which is 24% more than the previous fellowship amount of Rs 25,000. In the last revision, in 2014, the stipend for junior research fellowship was increased by 56%.
Research Associates (Ph.D holders or those having 3 years of research experience) will receive stipend in the range of Rs 47,000-Rs 54,000 per month. The Senior Research Fellowship has been hiked to Rs 35,000.
In addition, all the research fellows are also entitled to HRA as per the central government rules.
"The revised emoluments will take effect from 01.01.2019," the order reads. "Respective departments should meet the additionality from their existing budget through matching savings in other schemes. At the time of main budget for 2019-2020, this may be reviewed," it added.
The government sources claimed that for the first time a set of strong financial and academic incentives to enhance and recognize the performance of research fellows have been recommended.
Matters concerning the fellowships will now be handled by an empowered inter-ministerial committee that has also been mandated to take up all aspects of the issue.
The government has also recommended involvement of PhD students in undergraduate teaching and managing research infrastructure during their doctoral programme to enhance their career prospects.
The hike-lowest since 2010- has been announced after 5 years. In the last revision, in 2014, the JRF stipend was increased by 56% than it was in 2010. In 9 years, the research stipends have been revised only twice.
The decision comes two weeks after research fellows from across the country protested in Delhi demanding 80% percent hike in fellowship. "Some of us plan to go on an indefinite hunger strike till our demands are met. We have been demanding an 80 per cent hike in our fellowships applicable from April last year," Nikhil Gupta, the national representative of Research Scholars of India had said, then.
The furore continues. “We were promised by various authorities that the hikes would at least be in sync with previous years. That is, a ₹9,000 increase or a 56% increase (from 2010-2014). This is unacceptable and we will continue our protests,” Mr Gupta said to The Hindu today.
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