Struggling to make ends meet Indias earlycareer scientists take to the streets

first_img Email Struggling to make ends meet, India’s early-career scientists take to the streets By Sanjay KumarJan. 2, 2019 , 12:40 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Scientists protested at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru on 21 December 2018.center_img The new year is likely to see more protests by young Indian researchers struggling to make ends meet—which could include hunger strikes. Their leaders will meet on Thursday in New Delhi to chart a new course of action for their movement, which has taken to the streets several times the past few months. During the last protest, on 21 December 2018, thousands of researchers demonstrated at research institutions and universities around the country and at the federal science ministry in New Delhi.The scientists say their fellowship stipends are far too low to get by and often arrive 6 or even 12 months late. Prakash Javdekar, India’s minister of human resource development, acknowledged on 26 December 2018 that there had been backlogs, but said those have been addressed and cleared. The researchers called his statement a bluff; moreover, if the government wants to retain young talent, they say, it needs to increase the fellowships by 80% and provide for annual increases to make up for the rising cost of living.Many Indian agencies, including the University Grants Commission, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, and the Department of Science & Technology, provide stipends to early-career scientists who have passed an eligibility test. Ph.D. students receive just 25,000 rupees ($356) monthly the first 2 years and 28,000 rupees the following 3 years; research associates make 36,000 rupees to 40,000 rupees per month. Those not provided with a hostel room also get a modest rent allowance. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Atul Pradhan The amounts haven’t gone up in 4 years, even though housing costs have risen sharply. “In cities like Delhi or Bengaluru, rents automatically shoot up by 10% to 15% every [10] months, and many researchers coming from other cities don’t get hostels,” says Lal Chandra Vishwakarma, chairperson of the Society of Young Scientists at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. The long delays in payment amount to “enormous psychological harassment,” says Vishwakarma, who has led the recent protests.One young researcher at Delhi University who asked not to be named says she knows a fellow researcher who sometimes skips meals for days while his fellowship money is delayed. “Instead of focusing on research, students are forced to waste precious time chasing their fellowship money,” the researcher says. Researchers say they face enormous societal pressure to do better financially as others of their age and education level take up well-paying jobs outside academe.The situation is even worse for the large number of researchers enrolled in Ph.D. programs who have not passed the tests for a fellowship; they get almost no financial support. A nanotechnology researcher at the Rajiv Gandhi Technical University in Bhopal, India, says he receives no payments at all from his institute or the state government and even pays for his experiments from his own pocket.The Indian government’s principal scientific adviser, Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, acknowledges the problems. “While the situation is much better than a few years ago, there is much to be done and we recognize that and are addressing the matter,” he told ScienceInsider. “As we increase the footprint of science, our personnel costs go up,” VijayRaghavan says. “But overall we are working hard to increase support for students at all levels.”Ashutosh Sharma, secretary of India’s Department of Science & Technology and a nanotechnologist at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, is sympathetic to the demands as well. “I personally support the idea of regular increases instead of every 4 years,” he says. Sharma says he’s hopeful the next raise will come soon but alludes to the complexities of bringing together all of the government agencies involved—including the finance ministry, which controls the purse strings.Indian researchers hope general elections to be held in April or May will help their cause. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity has dropped recently—his Bharatiya Janata Party lost all five state elections held in December 2018—and alienating younger voters and the scientific community could hurt Modi’s chances to stay in power, researchers say.last_img read more