Research stipends hiked by over 50%2 min read . Updated: 22 Oct 2014, 12:13 AM IST
Move to benefit at least 70,000 scientists in the country
New Delhi: In a move that will benefit at least 70,000 scientists in the country, the department of science and technology (DST) on Tuesday said research scholars across the spectrum will receive at least a 50% hike in stipend effective 1 October.
The announcement came after the finance ministry discussed budgetary implications of the increase recommended by an inter-ministerial meeting after demands from researchers. “After seeing protests from research scholars across the country, we decided there should be a mechanism to review the honorarium that these research fellows receive," said Jitendra Singh, minister of state for science and technology. “With immediate effect, a hike of up to ₹ 22,000 (per month) will be applied to fellowships across the country. This is excluding perks such as HRA (house rent allowance), maternity leave, and medical (reimbursements)."
Singh told reporters that the monthly honorarium for research associate-III had been hiked to ₹ 46,000 from ₹ 24,000; for research associate-II to ₹ 42,000 from ₹ 23,000 and for research associate-I to ₹ 38,000 from ₹ 22,000. Senior research fellows’ stipends will be raised to ₹ 30,000 from ₹ 18,000 and that for junior research fellows to ₹ 25,000 from ₹ 16,000.
“We will be institutionalizing the periodic review and the periodicity has to be worked out. So their demands can be met. I hope the disbursement will be done fast," Singh said.
A hike in scientific research fellowships was last announced in 2010—around 33%.
“Till now, ₹ 1,663 crore was being spent on the fellowships of research scholars. Now there will be an additional requirement for ₹ 750 crore," said R. Brakaspathy, senior scientist and advisor, DST. Singh also issued directions to DST to establish a web-based fellowship assessment and disbursement mechanism so that delays in payment could be avoided.
“This is a welcome move and will make research fellows happy. Salaries for all government employees have been increased, it’s only fair that this should apply to the fellows also," said Thangaraj Kumaraswamy, a senior scientist at Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Indian scientists have not been the only ones protesting the low honorariums in research fellowships. There have been growing protests in Europe, with scientists taking to the streets to protest cuts in research funding and pay. While Spanish scientists protested about the continued cuts in research, especially after the closure of the science ministry in 2011, demonstrations took place in France as scientists protested against research cuts. Countries like Italy, Greece and Portugal have also faced massive budget cuts in research funds due to austerity measures put in place by the European Commission.