HYDERABAD: Union higher education secretary Kewal Kumar Sharma has announced that PhD scholars at all the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will get a monthly scholarship of Rs 70,000. This has raised several eyebrows because it is a huge increase from the current Rs 25,000, and is confined to just two institutions — the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, also qualifies for the enhanced stipend.
The draft bill incorporating this proposal is pending Cabinet approval and should be ready for the upcoming academic session.
It is said that this is a desperate move to stem the brain drain as students opt for research abroad. However, the students availing the fellowship cannot work while doing their research.
JEE chairman Dr Ch. Subrahmanyam admits the purpose is to encourage research within the country. “It is a very lucrative amount. Students from Centrally-funded institutions like IIT are the cream of India so it will ensure that the best of their work is conducted within the nation. The bill should get Cabinet approval in time for the upcoming students,” he said. Not all faculty members and academics approve of the new stipend.
Professor Swati Gupta, a faculty member of IIT-Hyderabad, says, “I believe it is quite a big amount and not everyone’s work will warrant the same. This is almost equal to the pay of an assistant professor. I do not believe that it is a good decision to hike the amount.”
Research scholars from other universities claim that the new scheme is grossly unfair to them, and that their fellowships are often delayed. Hari Krishnan, a research scholar, says, “The place of study alone cannot guarantee that the research is meritorious. Fellowships should be given according to the year of research and also the merit of the study as judged by the guide or an external panel.”
There are 23 IITs in the country. Around 2,000 research scholars will be given the monthly fellowship, as also to the research scholars of IISc, Bengaluru....