Smriti Irani politicised UGC non-NET fellowship issue, say protesters


New Delhi: It has been over a month since students from Delhi and other places across India had been vociferous regarding their demands to restore the UGC non-NET fellowship.  Despite HRD Minister Smriti Irani assuring to look into the matter and address the issue, the fiasco remains unresolved.

Following the controversy regarding the UGC, a committee was formed to look into the matter, but the inaction from the ministry testified that it was nothing more than an eye-wash. While the students dared everything and waited eagerly for Smriti Irani or an official to interact with the, none turned up.

The agitating students even alleged that their cause was not taken up by media.

However, the movement gained momentum after students from different corners of India came down to the capital and expressed solidarity with the agitation. Despite the protest being peaceful, around 50 people were detained. chanced upon the opportunity to interact with Aditya Charegaonkar, an MPhil Scholar from Tata Institue of Social Sciences, Mumbai.


NewsGram: What are your demands?

Aditya: Our demand from the government is to ‘restore’, ‘increase’ and ‘expand’.  As the government has planned to scrap the non-NET scholarship, the students are protesting against the move and want a restoration of the system.

With the escalating price hike in India, the grants that the government provides are too less to make ends meet. So the protest aims at compelling the government to increase the fellowship amount.

At present only the students from top central universities get the fellowship and the movement is also pitching for expanding the scholarship to all other state universities as well.

NewsGram: Did Smriti Irani do a volte-face?

Aditya: Smriti Irani just played politics with the issue. She just declared that a review committee would be formed to address the issue. However, there were no positive indications from the committee.

NewsGram:  How did the universities react to the protest?

Aditya: Our movement got no backing from the universities. The heads of the varsities said, clear the exams to be eligible for the grant.

NewsGram: What was the role of media?

Aditya: Since the corporatization of media, the news houses only cover events where a minister comes and delivers a speech. Regrettably, the movement failed to get media coverage. Media houses who came to cover did not file the news in a way that could have pressurized the government.

NewsGram: What next?

Aditya: The movement will continue till the government accepts the demands. The agendas are not unjust. It is the right of every citizen to get educated and the government’s policies are deterring it. A mass movement will be developed as students from across India are expressing solidarity with the movement.

I thank you on behalf of all my friends to give us a platform as we need this issue to be converted. This is unjust to deprive a section of students to study and do research work with his mind at peace.

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