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HRD ministry increases fellowship grants by 55%

Livemint:  March 04, 2015

New Delhi: The government on Tuesday increased fellowship grants to researchers at science and technology institutes by up to 55%, a move that will incur an additional expenditure of Rs.1,300 crore a year.

With this, the centre has not only increased the monthly grants to researchers but also has done away with differential grant slabs. For example, all junior research fellows will get Rs.25,000 per month, up from Rs.16,000 per month in their first two years and Rs.18,000 in the next three years.

Similarly, senior research fellows will get Rs.28,000 instead of Rs.18,000 in the first two years and Rs.20,000 in the next two years, according to a ministry circular, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.

At the Masters in Technology (M.Tech) and Masters in Engineering (ME) level, the research grants have been increased to Rs.12,400 from Rs.8,000 earlier.

An official with the human resources development (HRD) ministry said this will improve the research environment in India and encourage students to pursue a career in research instead of taking up jobs directly after bachelor’s degrees. It will benefit more than 75,000 researchers per year, the HRD ministry estimates.

The ministry had earlier planned to implement the decision from February, but protests by research scholars in several cities pushed it to make it effective from October 2014 for PhD students and December 2014 for students pursuing M.Tech. The department of science and technology had effected a similar raise in grants in October last year but the ministry was undecided then.

Anindita Brahma, academic secretary at IISc, said that parity in research grants is necessary to create a “healthy lab environment”. If a researcher under the science ministry gets a certain monthly grant and another researcher under HRD ministry gets less, it hampers the productivity and quality of research and “creates unnecessary divisions among fellows”, said Brahma.

Pankaj Jain, a PhD student at IISc, said researchers welcome the ministry’s decision.

Although the ministry has hiked the research grants, the onus is now on the institute to bear the extra expenditure from their own kitty, at least in 2014-15. “The additional cost, on account of this revision may be met by the individual institutes from their existing budgetary grants without any additionality in the current financial year, 2014-15,” its circular said. “During the next financial year 2015-16, the expenditure will be met, as first charge out of the sanctioned allocations to the institutions by the department of higher education."

The ministry said this decision has been taken with approval from the department of expenditure of the finance ministry.

The ministry communicated its decision to centrally funded institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Mines, Dhanbad, and others.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.

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