The HRD ministry in October set up a review committee that would look into the feasibility and expansion of benefits to students. The committee is expected to submit its recommendations to the ministry within two weeks. Hopefully this would resolve the long standing tussle regarding NET and non-NET fellowships.
The recommendations of the committee were initially supposed to be submitted by December end. These recommendations would have far-reaching consequences for all universities.
The five members of the panel would be conducting their final and fourth meeting on January 16 according to the committee chairman Gautam Barua. The mandate of the panel includes issues such as considering economic criteria for stipend, expanding coverage to state universities as well as establishment of a transparent system for money transfer.
Prof. Barua stated,” Our last meeting will be held on January 16 and the following week we will submit our recommendations to the ministry of human resources development.”
Although the HRD minister Smriti Irani had assured the agitating students that their concerns would be heard, surprisingly there is no student representation in the committee. The minister had made this assurance when the students were agitating and picketing at the UGC headquarters for the past 75 days over the mandate of the committee and the fellowship issues.
Prof. Barua said,” We will keep in mind students’ demands which we know through the media.”
Another committee member apprised the media on conditions of anonymity that the interests of the students would be paramount.
It was in last October when the UGC decided to scrap the non-NET fellowship that the protests started. The students have made it clear that they want the research stipend to be increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 for M.Phil. students and from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 for Ph.D. scholars and expansion of non-NET fellowships to state universities.