Occupy UGC: Students protest outside HRD Ministry, start postcard campaign

New Delhi, Jan 13: Students protesting over the issue of scrapping of non-NET scholarship today staged a protest outside the office of the HRD Ministry here and tried to submit a memorandum to the minister but were denied.

Simultaneously, the protesters kick-started a countrywide campaign in which they are sending postcards to HRD Minister Smriti Irani demanding restoration, increase and expansion of research scholarships.

Students protest outside HRD Ministry

Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Ambedkar University have been protesting under the banner of "Occupy UGC". "The HRD Minister did not meet us.

We met the Education Secretary, Vinay Sheel Oberoi and other officers, Ishita Roy and Amit Sinha. They gave us reassurances that the Ministry would consider the students' opinion.

"However, until a concrete written assurance is given to us, we will not sit at ease. We will also make one final attempt to meet the review committee on 16th January," said Shehla Rashid Shora, vice-president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU).

UGC had resolved to discontinue the scheme of non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship, which is provided to those undertaking research in central universities across India, in a meeting held on October 7 last year, citing shortage of resources.

But following protests by students, the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (HRD) had last week appointed a five-member panel to review the research grants offered by UGC. The Ministry has also asked UCG to continue all existing grants.

The scheme is in place for providing financial assistance to students undertaking MPhil and PhD — they are provided Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per month respectively.

Sucheta De, national president of Left-leaning All India Students Association (AISA), said that they have started a postcard campaign which will continue for a week and then all postcards will be submitted to the HRD Minister, who has to take a final decision, based on the review committee's report and the ongoing student protests.

"The campaign has been kicked off in various states, including Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and it will be started in other states soon," said Ashutosh Kumar, Delhi state secretary of AISA.


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