IITB Students protest peacefully against the delay in PG Stipend Hikes

Please note that this article is sourced from the press release made by PG students on the event of the protest. You can read the original press release here.

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More than 500 post-graduate students of IIT bombay conducted a peaceful protest march in the campus on 18th February, 2015 against the long delay in the stipend hike. The delay in the hike, disparity in the effective dates and poor coordination among different funding agencies has caused great discontent among Research Scholars and Master’s students. The objective of the protest was to highlight key demands of students.

A signature campaign was organised in the Institute in August 2014 with nearly 3800 students signing the petition seeking a hike in stipend and a provision for annual increment. It was handed over to the Hon. HRD Minister, Mrs Smriti Irani during her visit to IIT Bombay on 29 September 2014, where she had given an assurance to extend her full support in addressing the issue. Consequently, the Hon. Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh announced and issued a notification of hike on 21st October, 2014. The hike was announced with effect from 1 October 2014. The stipend for students funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC) was later increased by the same amount but with effect from 1st December, 2014. MHRD, which is the funding agency for a majority of students in IITs, issued a notification vide no. F.NO.l7-2/2014-TS.I dated 18th February, 2015. The following clauses in the notification have discrepancies:

1. The hike in scholarship is approved with effect from 1st February, 2015, inconsistent with a similar circular brought out by the Department of Science & Technology on October 21, 2014.

2. Section 2.3 of the notification mentions – “The concerned Institution should review the performance of the Fellow after two years through an appropriate Review Committee constituted by the Head of the Institution. The fellowship in the slab after 2 years of research experience may be provided after successful assessment by the Review Committee”, but the table which cites the amount and scheme of revised emolument neither mentions that a Junior Research Fellow (JRF) will be promoted to a Senior Research Fellow (SRF) with 28,000/- pm after two years of research, nor is there any amount mentioned for SRFs after satisfactory completion of the first two years of their research.

The scholarship was last increased in 2010 and needs revision to account for inflation and increased costs of living post-2010. The flaws in the aforementioned notification have left the PG students of IIT Bombay disgruntled.

The students wish to make the following demands:

1. Increase in stipend with effect from 1st October, 2014.
2. Slab implementation in hike – students in the JRF slab should get 28,000/-p.m. after completion of two years of research and those in the SRF slab should get 31,500/- p.m. after completion of first two years of research.
3. Disbursal of revised fellowship by the end of March 2015, with arrears.
4. Provision for annual revision of fellowship
5. A dedicated government official should be responsible for coordinating with students on behalf of ‘all existing funding agencies’ and ‘related ministers’ and vice versa. The reply time for any query of students to this official should not be more than 5 working days.

Other funding agencies like Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), which haven’t announced the hike yet, should follow suit with immediate effect.

Useful links:
1. Notification for stipend hike issued by DST dated 31st March, 2010
2. Notification for stipend hike issued by DST dated 21st October, 2014
3. Notification for stipend hike issued by MHRD dated 18th February, 2015