The outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have destabilized the lives especially of those from economically weaker section of society. It has been seven months since locks put on higher education institutions and the normalcy of academic activities interrupted. The University Grants Commission has unofficially frozen the disbursal of Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) and Senior Research Fellowships (SRF) since July but the research activities are expected to be progressed incessantly. Thousands of research scholars have been going through a situation of worst crisis putting not only their work but their survival itself is at stake. The access to campus and institutional facilities have been disconnected and in such a scenario where they squeeze themselves out to keep their work pace up and to ensure their survival the no disbursal of fellowships adds fuel to the fire.
The central government had utilized the entire pandemic period to design anti-people policies and to architecture how they can be smuggled in under the veil of lockdown and pandemic. There have been zero investment of time and energy in planning to better the lives of downtrodden people worst affected by the pandemic and the consequent lockdown. Lacks of people had lost their sources of income and the lives of innumerable family are destabilized. Deferring fellowships at a time of huge financial crisis and mental agony is a double blow on research scholars as most of them depend solely on that income to carry out their research activities and also to survive. UGC has mandated a Senior Research Fellowship conversion meeting to further receive research fellowships on completion of three years of the research period. Under the current circumstances SRF conversion meetings have not been conducted and their fellowships are now being denied citing this as a reason. Meanwhile fresh applications had been called for and approved to receive PMRF fellowship.
It is shameful to have government that neither works towards strengthening the economy nor cares about judiciously allocating the available resources. Thousands of research scholars, who sweat themselves out day and night to solidify the intellectual and academic capital of the country is suffering out on the streets but the Central government is lavishing on advertisements and PR works. The government is parasitizing on the mental and academic wellbeing of the researchers and the working class of the country is a grotesque reality to deal with for the entire nation. The survival of thousands of brilliant young minds in the country is now on the verge of collapse. This situation has become another instance of the anti-student policies of central government which is defunding public education from the majority of bright and economically backward students who qualified UGC NET JRF and thus confining access to Higher Education only to
the rich people who could afford it.
Due to non-dispursal of the INSPIRE scholarship (released by the Department of Science and Technology), a student of Lady Sriram College under Delhi University was forced to commit suicide 4 days ago. The Students' Federation of India demands the immediate disbursal of all national fellowships and to continue the disbursal unfailingly every month.
In this regard the Central Executive Committee of SFI urges all the units to organise united protest demonstration demanding scholarships.
VP Sanu (President)
Mayukh Biswas (General Secretary)