In a move that will directly benefit over 60,000 researchers, the Centre has enhanced the fellowship of PhD students and other research personnel enrolled in any area of science and technology. Fellowship of the Junior Research Fellows (JRF) in the first two years of the PhD programme has been increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 31,000 per month. Similarly, in the remaining tenure of PhD, a Senior Research Fellow will get Rs 35,000 per month, instead of the present Rs 28,000.
This is effective from January 1, an offcial statement said.
For the first time, it noted, the government has recommended a set of strong financial and academic incentives to enhance and recognise the performance of research fellows and there will be a performance-based addition to the fellowship.
Human Resource Development minister Prakash Javadekar welcomed the move and called it a "major gift" to researchers from the Narendra Modi government.
"The decision to hike fellowship amounts for JRF, SRF and Research Associates (I, II, III) is a major gift to researchers from @narendramodi govt. #Research #TransformingIndia #sabkasathsabkavikas," he tweeted.
"This hike is happening back to back. In 2015 @narendramodi Govt increased the fellowship by 56%, Now in 2019 by 25%, which translates into an increase of nearly 100% of the fellowship amount that was being paid in 2014. #Research #TransformingIndia," Javadekar added.
"The decision to hike fellowship amount shows that the @narendramodi govt's care for researchers and innovators," he said.
"This is one the world's largest fellowship and as many as 53,000 student researchers will directly benefit. Govt will spend Rs 500 Cr additional per annum on this," the Union minister added.
An Empowered Inter-Ministerial Committee has been constituted to periodically examine all the fellowship matters that have a bearing on enhancing the value, quality and experience of doctoral research, including the quantum of fellowship.
One of the recommendations was to involve the PhD students in undergraduate teaching and managing research infrastructure during their doctoral research. This will not only widen their scope of training, but also enhance their career prospects, the statement said.
On January 16, research scholars from across the country staged a protest outside Shastri Bhawan in the city in support of their long-standing demand of increasing the scholarship amount.
"The central government has enhanced the fellowship of PhD students and other research personnel enrolled in any area of science and technology, including physical and chemical sciences, engineering, mathematical sciences, agricultural sciences, life sciences, pharmacy," the statement said.
A statement quoting Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said PhD scholars, working in science and technology, are the most significant contributors to the knowledge base of the country for its industrial competitiveness, academic vibrancy and technology-led innovations and improving the value of PhD research cannot be a one-time exercise, but requires constant input and efforts which the government is fully committed to undertake.
There is a substantial 30-35 per cent enhancement in the financial rewards for the scientists involved in the research and development (R&D) projects as research associates and the top bracket of research associateship is fixed at Rs 54,000, the statement added.
All the research fellows are also entitled to house rent allowance as per the central government norms
(With inputs from PTI)