As part of the fellowship movement the central executive committee of SFI urged all the university units and research institutes to organise protest demonstration for increasing fellowship and its regular disbursement. SFI will be holding protest demonstration on these demands on 21st December, 2018. SFI demands that the government has to intervene in the following matters with urgency:
Non-NET fellowships should be increased by at-least 50 % from the current session.
A hike according to the inflation of last 4 years and regular disbursement of fellowship of JRF, CSIR and ICCSR or ICHR has to be done.
A parity of amount needs to be maintained while awarding scholarship across the higher education institutes.
The notification for scholarship like MANF, RGNF or SVSGC which has a particular target population cannot be untimely and irregular.
More scholarship in the post graduate level has to be ensured for the people who are coming from weaker financial section of society with preference to those from marginalized communities and to increase the present post graduate level scholarships according to the inflation of last 4 years.
The Central Executive Committee of SFI extends its warm solidarity and complete support with the protesting students of TISS Hyderabad against the anti-student administration who have launched a series of attempts to dismantle the institution. The administration of TISS, without any consultation with the student body or in any democratic platform, has taken a decision to scrap the Bachelor’s in social sciences course. They have also decided to close down the residential facility in the Rajendran Nagar campus. The students have been protesting since December 10 demanding the reversion of the administration’s decisions.
These decisions have come to light only when the notification for the upcoming academic year was out on Oct. 31st, during the vacation period to avoid any larger mobilisation to the autocratic decisions they took. Students immediately registered their anguish over the decisions and reminded the administration about the repercussions may follow if the decisions are carried. The director refused to meet the students or address their concerns and queries. It was only after the students warned the administration on a fee boycott, the TISS Students’ Council was called for a meeting with the Director Shalini Bharat on November 22, 2018, wherein she refused to roll back any of the decisions. Students were left with no option but to wage a battle to the authoritarian administration. The protesting students have also raised concerns over the scholarship and fees.
We see the decision of TISS administration in connection with the larger attacks going on in the country against social science courses. The developments in TISS are also pinpointing multiple nature of assaults on higher education in the country. Therefore the resistance built by the students in TISS Hyderabad deserves a larger solidarity from all who stands in defence of critical thinking and democratic campus.
SFI demand the TISS administration to immediatly withdraw the decisions to scrap BA courses and to make the campus a non-residential one. SFI stands in solidarity with the protesting students of TISS Hyderabad and also appeals the larger sections to extend their support to the ongoing battle.
The Central Executive Committee of SFI extends its support and solidarity with the people affected by the Cyclone Gaja, which hit parts of Central Tamilnadu in Mid-November. The enormous scale of the destruction has become clear now and the state of Tamilnadu and its people are struggling to overcome the damages occurred. Thousands of people have lost their houses, livelier, paddy farming lands, crops etc. Transport and electricity have been collapsed in a huge scale. Around 3 lakh people were taken shelter in relief camps.
SFI units in Tamilnadu have been actively engaged in the relief works following the cyclone which caused huge lose of properties and people to the state. We call upon all our units in Tamilnadu to continue their works till the normalcy is back in the affected areas. As always, one of the worst affected sections of this disaster also is the students and children. We recognize the need for a larger solidarity from across the nation to help out our fellow countrymen in Tamilnadu. SFI CEC urges all our units to carry out intensive collection of relief funds and materials for the Cyclone Gaja hit people. We appeal the general public to contribute generously to the relief efforts and fund collection.
SFI CEC urges all the state committees to launch a concrete campaign in the university centers, research institutes, NITs, IITs regarding the necessity to increase the non-net fellowship and regular disbursement of other scholarship owing to the financial burden that is being imposed on a daily basis on the research scholars in the following paragraphs below.
Non-NET fellowship scheme was introduced by the UGC in 2006 to financially help students who do not avail any other fellowships like UGC JRF/SRF, CSIR JRF/SRF, etc. Owing to the growing financial burdens on the research scholars the HRD ministry has increased the fellowship received by students on the basis of NET-JRF (as clearing only NET does not give any added financial help) , but there was a serious negligence in consideration with respect to fellowship holders without the JRF. Not only this, in October, 2015, the UGC even decided to discontinue the non-NET fellowships which got restored following huge protests carried out by the students across the country. A committee was even formed to review the non-NET fellowship and was supposed to deliver by December, 2015 but there was no change in status of the non-NET fellowship even after that.
Ever since the onset of this government there has been a conscious attempt to destroy public funded universities and shift towards a privatized environment in the academic space. In order to achieve so, the government has resorted to cuts in funding by cuts in budgetary allocation in higher education which in turn-imposed cuts in financial aid to public universities as well as decrease in no of fellowships, followed by seat-cuts and all in turn concluded into added financial burden on students pursuing higher education. The recommendations by Kothari commission have clearly mentioned that for higher education to prosper and benefit all sections of the society, there must be a budget allocation of 6% of GDP for education in India, but successive governments have failed to implement so. For instance, the budgetary allocation for education in comparison to 2015-16 went from 3.1% of GDP to 2.6% of GDP in 2016-17. In absolute figures, the numbers went down from Rs 1,10,351 crores in 2015-16 to Rs 85,010 crores in 2016-17. It should be noted that the fund allocation in 2017-18 was merely Rs 79,585 crores. Not only this, the scheme of declaring India’s prime universities as financial autonomous has pushed universities towards self-financing modes where the universities will have to generate their funding through excessive fee-hike which will not include hike in admission fees but fees for availing basic facilities like internet, distilled water for labs, etc. Along with the factors mentioned above, inflation has also added extra financial burden on the researchers. According to a report by RBI there has been an inflation of 28% in the last 5 years since 2013.
Apart from that, although all the students (which include students with NET/JRF and also students without that) gets admitted through the same nation-wide examination test for individual universities, the difference in not-NET fellowships holders and the others creates a space of hierarchy and discrimination among researchers which is very unhealthy for any academic spaces of higher education. This discriminatory practice towards the non-IIT institutions has to be stopped. Though it is not surprising looking at the nature of the ruling classes in India, but it is not just to discriminate researchers when researchers across unitedly are contributing to the education of the society.
Hence, the government has to intervene in the following matters with urgency:
· Non-NET fellowships should be increased by at-least 50 % from the current session.
· A hike according to the inflation of last 4 years and regular disbursement of fellowship of JRF, CSIR and ICCSR or ICHR has to be done.
· A parity of amount needs to be maintained while awarding scholarship across the higher education institutes.
· The notification for scholarship like MANF, RGNF or SVSGC which has a particular target population cannot be untimely and irregular.
· More scholarship in the post graduate level has to be ensured for the people who are coming from weaker financial section of society with preference to those from marginalized communities and to increase the present post graduate level scholarships according to the inflation of last 4 years.