Students, Research Scholars Await Government Scholarships Amidst Pandemic
After a second-year student died by suicide stating financial distress in the note left, many students and research scholars have come together forming groups on digital platforms asking the government to release their dues pending from a long time.
A 2nd-year student of Telangana studying in Delhi's Lady Shri Ram college died by suicide stating ongoing financial distress as a cause of her worry in a note she left. She also mentioned to disburse her INSPIRE scholarship that she was awaiting from the Centre's Department of Science and Technology. "Because of me my family has many expenses, I am a burden to them. My education is a burden. If I can't study, I can't live...Please try and ensure that the INSPIRE scholarship is at least given for a year," said her note in Telugu.
After the incident, many students and research scholars have come together forming groups on digital platforms asking the government to release their dues pending from a long time.
Amit, a farmer's son from Uttar Pradesh is studying for a master's degree in Delhi's JNU. He is eligible for the university's Merit-cum-Means scholarship.
But he hasn't got any of the 2000-rupee-a-month stipend ever since the pandemic began. Sharing his ordeal, he says: "My payment of mess bill is dependent on this amount.
During the pandemic, the mess bill went above Rs 2,500. We are paying from our pockets and the amount that we paid during registration has also not been reimbursed." Amit blames lack of employment back home as also a reason of worry and his family has also had to take a loan to fulfil some payments.
Other than University students, research and JRF, SRF scholars are running a movement on Twitter as many of them haven't received their fellowship since before the pandemic hit the country.
JNU's Rahul got a non-NET scholarship and has spent Rs 12,000 only on printing research papers. He and his peers depend heavily on the scholarship amount but they haven't received it during their worst economic phase. "A friend of mine said that he will have to leave his education because economic difficulties are causing him stress. In female students' case, I personally don’t know someone, but I have heard many have been married by their families.", said Rahul.
On November 9, Secretary of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Professor Rajnish Jain told news agency ANI, that pending Research Fellowship amounts would be released by the UGC within a week.
PhD Scholar, Anjali says, "I haven't received my UGC SRF scholarship since October 2019. I know people who haven't received it from much longer. I know many who are in a worse situation. It is utterly shameful that it took a suicide for UGC to even consider releasing our scholarship." Anjali hopes money comes into all of their accounts before more cases like these develop.
Shifas, another PhD scholar, said family and society were tensed about her security and safety before she ventured out for higher studies. She says, "As a woman coming from a minority community and in general, I want to try my level best to pass the wisdom to coming generation, not my sufferings. We want a little support from government which would save our research from getting hampered."
Rahul Kapoor, PhD Scholar from JMI said, "Let’s assume that our amounts are disbursed, but will that bring Aishwarya back? I have a lot of research scholar friends who have also thought of donating some amount of their fellowship to Aishwarya’s family. Although that too would be too little and too late as she is gone.
JNUSU Councillor Vishnu Prasad suggests that scholarships should be given on a regular basis rather than disbursing the money together after a lot of hues and cries from the student community. “These are the times students are in the need of support from the government and university authorities. The double whammy from the pandemic and the delay in scholarships are pushing many students to drop out”, says Vishnu.
Loss of one life because of lack of funds and digital infrastructure has brought the struggling student community together. They see things moving but it has cost them quality research and caused a lot of stress.