“Hike Hike, Fellowship Hike!!” is the sound that you will hear coming from every research institute of India today. It’s been 8 months now that the research scholars of the country are protesting. What are their demands? A fair hike in their fellowships. The hike has been due since April 2018. From beginning of July 2018 research scholars have been given false assurances that the hike shall be announced anytime soon. But no announcements have been officially made yet. Time and again protesting research scholars across the country have been betrayed with false promises.
Timely disbursement of fellowships is another long standing issue that the students across India are facing. Research fellows distributed across the funding agencies never get their salaries regularly. The period of delay is sometimes as long as 7-8 months. This is disastrous, particularly for those who have to support their families. So timely and regular disbursement of fellowships is another major demand that the students are raising.
Students from various institutes across India like IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, AIIMS Delhi, NCL Pune, NCCS Pune, IISER Pune, IISER Bhopal, Pune University, IISc Bangalore, IICB Kolkata, IISER Kolkata, BHU, ACTREC, IIT Roorkee, IIT Kharagpur and many more are coming out on streets to demand their rights. The demands that the students are raising are fair and must be fulfilled. It is a sorry condition of the country today that these bright youth have to come out on the streets to demand their rights. The research scholars have been now protesting for the last 8 months to demand what they deserve.
Students have used all possible forms of protest like marches, silent marches, slogan chanting, candle light marches, hunger strike, bike rallies, etc. But it looks like all the voices of protesting students have fallen on deaf ears.
Another incident that triggered great anguish among the research scholars across the country was the arrest of 2000 scholars in Delhi. Around 2000 research scholars had gathered outside MHRD and had announced an indefinite hunger strike. The decision to go on an indefinite hunger strike was agreed upon by all the research scholars across India after waiting for months together to hear a positive response from the government. The research scholars that had gathered on 16th January outside MHRD had all the necessary permissions to gather and carry out a silent protest and that was what was being done. But in the evening all the scholars were detained and taken to different police stations. They were released later at night without filing any charges against them. This clearly tells us that it was a move to scare the protesting research fellows. This incident on 16th January 2019 triggered another chain of strikes and protests amongst the already protesting students for fellowship hike. This time research fellows came out in full support and stood strongly in solidarity against the arrest of research fellows in New Delhi. It is a sorry condition of the country today that the “SCHOLARS” who have been “AWARDED SCHOLARSHIPS” are treated like criminals.
What does the government think of protesting scholars who are out on streets to demand what is just? How democratic is it to detain the bright and courageous youth for demanding what they deserve? Isn’t it a shame in the first place that time and again research students have had to come out on streets and demand it? And even when they show the courage to do it, how are they treated? Like CRIMINALS?!?! Sometimes we wonder, did we ever get freedom or we are still living under the boots of the Britishers? A rule where innocents raising their voices to demand their rights are treated anti-state, because the state in place cannot fulfill its responsibilities!
The research scholars across the country have shown tremendous courage and bravery and also demonstrated excellent unity for the cause. We salute the research scholars for all their efforts and stand in solidarity with them.