More than 80,000 research scholars across different institutes of the country have called for a boycott of National Science Day on February 28 to register their protest against the apathy of the government towards the scientific community.
“The protest is not just for increasing our fellowships. There is a broader idea to strengthen the scientific structure of our country and for this there should be more labs, more funding for research and more high quality instruments. We talk about reversing brain drain but how can this happen without bringing about effective changes,” Ruchika Pokhriyal, a research scholar at AIIMS told HT.
Thousands of postgraduate students had taken to the streets nationwide to protest overdue hikes to government stipends.
Scholars at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore resorted to street play to press their point. Last year in October just before Diwali the Department of Science and Technology had announced a hike in fellowship for research scholars.
But this became applicable to only those working under DST. Some other funding agencies like UGC increased the fellowship from December. Others like ICMR, HRD ministry decided to hike only from this month—leading to frustration.
SivaRanjan Uppala who had to call off his hunger strike at Jantar Mantar for health reasons said: “:The effective date of hike for all fellowships must be from April 1, 2014 with parity among all the funding agencies. The government must implement regular disbursal of fellowship for all the scholars in various institutions in India.”
The government, he said must streamline a system to have annual increment in fellowship based on the inflation factor such that the hike process happens automatically.
“There should be a single organization that can coordinate with all the funding agencies to issue a notification on the same day with parity.”
Other long term demands include development of research infrastructure in the universities and increase the scope of research for more number of students including problems of libraries, laboratories, instruments.
"This should really be taken care off. Why do good talents in science migrate to other countries?," said a senior scientist.