The recent massive protest regarding the withdrawal of funds for the Non- National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship scheme has made a clear impact on all sectors. It is seen as a tremendous blow to the system of higher education in India, where a large sector of students depended on this fellowship program as a means to sustain their higher studies. The entire nation receded into despair following the decision to scrap this fellowship. But hope has somewhat being restored after HRD minister Smriti Irani recently tweeted that such decisions are being re-considered and not face a discontinuation.
This decision was conveyed after she met a delegation of students associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Smriti Irani conveyed that he scheme will now cover research scholars of state universities too and the fellowship amount will be transferred directly to the beneficiaries’ bank account. This is yet to be finalized and nothing concrete has come out of it as of now. Students all around the country have arranged protest against this decision to cut grants but with Smriti Irani’s assurance a ray of hope might be seen.
The decision of UGC to discontinue it was based on the grounds that the fellowship lacked accountability and transparency. It provided financial assistance of Rs 5,000 per month for 18 months to MPhil students and Rs 8,000 per month for four years to PhD students and was limited to research scholars of central universities. But Smriti Irani proposed to increase its ambit and apply the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme to it. We can only hope that such decisions turn out right and students do not have to worry about financial troubles to the already existing ones.
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