Indian government to boost stipend for early-career scientists

But researchers say the 25% increase is not enough to meet living costs.

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Research students take part in a hunger strike in Bangalore, India in January. They called for an increase to fellowship stipends.Credit: Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty

The Indian government announced last week that it will increase the stipend for PhD students who have qualified for a research fellowship by up to 25%.

About 60,000 graduate students will now receive 31,000 rupees (US$435), up from 25,000 rupees, a month for the first 2 years of their fellowship, and then 35,000 rupees a month thereafter, up from 28,000 rupees.

But the news was greeted with derision by students, who had been pushing for an 80% increase. Since October 2018, they have held regular protests and more than 2,000 students have undertaken a ‘relay’ hunger strike. They say that the current payments are too low and arrive irregularly, making it difficult to meet living expenses.

Government officials say that the fellowship is not a salary, but financial support given to students while they decide on a career path. The government has also announced a ministerial committee that it says will examine all matters that affect the “value, quality and experience” of research, including periodic reviews of the stipend. It also recommended that the committee consider a system of financial and academic incentives to favour the best performers. The government will also increase the stipend for postdoctoral research fellows by up to 35%.

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