Muhsin Puthan Purayil
Research fellowship hike announced by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Wednesday has met with strong response from research scholars who have been protesting for a hike in the research fellowship such as Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), Senior Research Fellowship (SRF) and Post Doctoral Fellowship (PDF). Much to their disappointment, the fellowship hike announced was 24-25 per cent as against the 80 per cent hike which they have been demanding.
The last fellowship hike was in 2015 which increased the fellowship from Rs 16000 to Rs 25000 and Rs 18000 to Rs 28000 for JRF and SRF respectively and from 22,000- 24,000 to Rs 36,000 to 40,000. Last time also researchers had to hit the street to claim what was genuinely due for them. Even though it was assured them of a hike at the end of four years, it did not come by forcing the researchers to protest over it.
Researches who have already taken to social media to engage in protest expressed their disappointment through facebook and Twitter and determined to continue the protest until their demands are met. Twitter handle of Prakash Javadekar was the major target, as he conveyed the news through his twitter handle while terming the hike as a major gift from the Modi government. Further he tweeted that “The decision to hike fellowship amount shows that the @narendramodi govt’s care for researchers and innovators. #Research #TransformingIndia #sabkasathsabkavikas”. Prakash Javadekar’s tweets have only further enraged the already disconcerted researchers.
While the term ‘gift’ did not go down well, many have also explicitly conveyed their displeasure to the government and warned the government of its consequences. Many tweets expressed the same. For instance one tweet reads, “Mr. Javdekar, playing with people’s sentiment is not a good idea at all. You have to pay the price. Be ready”. Another reads “Apne to surprise bolke shock de diya. Now I can truly convince my family and relatives that why not a single vote for this fake BJP govt. Hike ko leke jo ghatiya majak hum logoke sath kiya, hum log vi #election2019 main yehi majak lauta denge #hikeorjoke”. And yet another stated that “We will show our power..and will remove BJP from government… #NoVoteforBJP You have lost your credibility..”
Similrly, Twitteratti researchers also compared previous hike when congress was in power. As one tweet reads “Congress did better hike (60%,50%,33%) in 4 year(2006,7,10) than bjp(56%,24%). So tell me where is jai anusandhan?”. Researchers also targeted Modi government and Modi for this paltry hike. One researcher commented “Itna Acha joke @narendramodi hi mar sakta” , clearly targeting Modi.
Muhsin is a research scholar at the Department of Political Science in University of Hyderabad