Abdul Basit*, a research scholar in one of the Central Universities located in National Capital Region, submitted his scholarship application for Maulana Azad National Fellowships (MANF) for minority students in last December. Since then, Basit and several other students are awaiting the list of selected candidates while the government says the results will be finalized in July last week.
"Doing research without proper financial assistance is really difficult. I work in the field of History which demands travel to various places in the country. This is apart from the living expenses in a metro city like Delhi," Basit complains.
He says, every research scholar who has no financial backup needs to rake in atleast 12 thousand rupees to support their studies per month.
"I owe money to several people. This is the life of a normal research scholar. I had huge expectations from the MANF while I was applying for it in last June," he said.
Several other students from across India also share Basit's concerns.
"Ever since applications were invited for MANF and OBC Fellowships, UGC NET exams were held two times, which in turn means that the slots of those who qualified JRF in this period will be wasted if UGC don't crosscheck those whose names appear in the lists of both," another student who had applied for MANF said.
"After applying for MANF in January, I had tweeted several times to the MHRD, UGC, Minority Affairs Minister, etc. asking about the delay in declaring the result. Virtually it's now almost three years since they provided MANF, RJNF and OBC Fellowships," he told NDTV.
When contacted about the delay in processing the scholarship, an official from the Minority affairs ministry passed the buck to University Grants Commission (UGC), which oversees research scholarships like MANF, OBC research scholarship and Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste students.
"We have done what has to be done from the ministry's end. Now, it's the responsibility of the UGC to disburse the fellowship," the Ministry official said.
Expert Committee meeting soon
To a question asked by Binoy Viswam MP of CPI in Rajya Sabha last week, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said the UGC has already initiated the selection process for award of fellowship for the year 2018-19 under National Fellowship for Students of Backward Classes (OBC) and MANF.
"In this regard, the UGC has constituted an Expert Committee for finalizing the award of fellowship. As informed by UGC, the screening of the applications has been done in the Expert Committee meeting held on 29th and 30th May, 2019. The Expert Committee meeting is scheduled on 25th and 26th July, 2019 for finalization of selection," the minister said.
The UGC notified the MANF scholarships in 2018 after a two-year gap when they were faced with protests from students' groups.
In a related issue, students who applied for the OBC scholarships also expressed the same concerns of MANF students.
"I have applied for the scholarship in last January. My course is set to conclude in coming two months. What is the benefit if I am given a fellowship after the completion of the course," a research scholar from a Kerala-based varsity said.
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