Today students from different universities of the country will march to #OccupyUGC against the attempt to scrap the Non NET Fellowship. Alarmed by the spontaneous protests erupting in different campuses of the country the MHRD ministry has made a face saving statement which is not only contradictory but also confusing.
AISA strongly opposes the MHRD Statement as it is Nothing But A Reiteration of the UGC Decision of 7th Oct. It is clearly an attempt by MHRD to diffuse the anger of the protesting students by spreading misinformation.
Context of the MHRD Statement: Since the decision of a UGC meeting dated 7th October regarding discontinuation of non-NET fellowship became public, we have seen a huge mass upsurge against the decision. Under pressure of this mass dissent which has now gone viral in the name of #OccupyUGC from 21st October, the BJP government and its student wing ABVP have been busy spreading lies and confusion through media statements and social media to diffuse the movement. Students across the country have given a call of #occupyugc protest on 26th October, the centre being the UGC office in Delhi. To diffuse the momentum of the protest, the MHRD has come out with a press statement and a notice. The ABVP is spreading through this notice that the MHRD has decided to revoke the UGC’s decision of discontinuing the fellowship. One simple reading of the MHRD statement makes it more than clear that in no way the MHRD is revoking UGC’s decision, rather it is only reiterating its decision to discontinue the fellowship.
This is what was said in the minutes of UGC meeting of 7th October which sparked of the #OccupyUGC movement-
So, the UGC decided to discontinue the fellowship for new students. We all have known about it, yet this decision has generated mass protest.
Now let us see what the MHRD statement says:
”The Government has decided to establish a Review Committee to go into the issues related to the research fellowships provided by the UGC, covering both NET and Non-NET fellowships. The Review Committee will submit its report to the Ministry within December 2015. Amongst the issues entrusted to the Committee are….. d) Considering economic and other criteria for eligibility for non-NET fellowships………………………….. Irrespective of the recommendations of the Review Committee, all existing and continuing fellowships, NET as well as Non-NET would be continued; there will be no change retrospectively.”
It has to be noted that the MHRD is saying:
1.Economic or other criteria will be introduced through this review committee for giving non-NET fellowship. AISA opposes any such attempt to restrict the ambit of the Non-NET scholarship.
a. We believe that specifying economic or other criteria is an attempt to restrict the scope of the research scholarship. Also, what is the ‘other’ criterion, why is it not clearly specified? It is very much possible that by choosing to remain vague about the ‘other’ criterion the committee will introduce merit as eligibility criterion for the scholarship, this is even more so because there have been continuous media reports about introducing a merit criterion more availing the scholarship. Let us remind the MHRD that every research scholar is enrolled in any university only after passing through a screening test conducted by the university and hence enrollment in a research should be THE only criterion for availing the scholarship.
b. Even inclusion of economic criteria will hugely discourage researchers as almost all researchers will be forced to seek employment immediately after graduation if fellowships are not provided.
2.The MHRD statement says “there will be no change retrospectively” in NET or non-NET scholarship through the decision of the Review Committee. This clearly means the mandate of the Review Committee is to introduce restriction is giving the scholarship for students who are going to be enrolled in research program from the next academic session. This was exactly what the UGC decided.
The student community is not going to get fooled by the fraud press statements of the MHRD or the ABVP. The #OccupyUGC shall continue. Our call for #OccupyUGC is going to see larger participation defying MHRD’s diversionary tactics. Our protest shall continue until and unless-
i.The UGC and the MHRD unequivocally comes out with notification making UGC 7th Oct decision null and void. We will not retreat until they agree to continue the fellowship for newly enrolled students from next academic year without any criteria.
ii.The introduction of any exclusionary criteria such as merit or economic criteria has to be withdrawn.
iii.The fellowship must increase from the present scale of Rs 5000/8000 commensurate with increase in JRF. The fellowship must also be linked to inflation index for all future purposes.’
iv.The fellowship must be expanded to all state universities without any exclusionary criteria and with an increased rate.
Let us meet at UGC at 2 PM on 26th October. Student representatives from different universities in the country are joining our protest in Delhi today. Simultaneous protests are being held in different universities all over India. The #OccupyUGC movement is on.