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India boosts graduate students' pay; scholars reject it

Scholars say the hike is far too small

by K. V. Venkatasubramanian, special to C&EN
February 1, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 5


Photo shows young researchers in India holding signs and demonstrating for higher pay.
Credit: Atul Pradhan
India's government is raising researchers' pay.

After eight months of lobbying, doctoral and postdoc science and technology researchers in India will immediately get a hike in their stipends and scholarships of between 24 and 35%, the government has announced. Scholars there have not had a pay raise in half a decade.

However, researchers, who recently protested in New Delhi, summarily rejected the government’s increase, saying it is far below the 80% boost they seek. Some vowed to continue a hunger strike.

Under a Jan. 30 memo from the Ministry of Science and Technology, entrants to a PhD program, called junior research fellows during their first two years, will get a boost of 24%, with their stipends and scholarships rising from the current rate of ₹300,000 ($4,228) per year, set in 2014, to ₹372,000 ($5,243). Similarly, senior research fellows will get ₹420,000 annually, up from ₹336,000. Those with doctorates or three years of experience who are research associates will get a 30–35% jump, giving them annual remuneration of between ₹564,000 and ₹648,000, compared with the old rate of ₹432,000 to ₹480,000. Scholars in these three categories are also entitled to housing rental allowances.

The increase, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, will affect more than 60,000 researchers.

The organization Research Scholars of India, which sought an 80% increase, cannot accept the government’s plan, says the group’s national representative and coordinator, Nikhil Gupta, who is a researcher at the Centre of Biomedical Research in Lucknow.

“This is an insult to our efforts, struggles, and the collective spirit, our collective conscience,” says Sahu Samrat, who is pursing a doctorate in organic chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology campus in Kharagpur. “We strongly condemn this outright economic exploitation of research scholars in our country.”


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