In this time of pandemic, when corona virus is mutating so fast and steadily, funding agencies such as UGC and CSIR are not working even at the normal pace. And due to this reason, research fellows all over the country are suffering from the delays in grants. These fellows are doing Ph. D. from various higher education and research institutes all over India.

Bodies such as CSIR, UGC give them monthly stipends (Rs. 31,000/- for JRF and Rs. 35,000/- for SRF). These monthly stipends help these budding researchers to run their livelihood while doing their work. Also, they carry out research expenses from this stipend only. Funding agency give a meagre amount for research expenses once in a year (Rs. 12,000/-(Science), Rs. 10,000/- (Arts) to JRFs and Rs. 25,000/-(Science), Rs. 20,500/- (Arts) to SRFs ). This amount obviously is not sufficient.

Thus, a research fellow in our country works under high academic pressure and scarcity of funds. Things can still be managed if stipends, however small, are received regularly. But the issue here is that stipends are highly irregular. Research scholars go months without stipend. In addition to it, fellows have to get through a complex procedure to apply for the same.

Issues of UGC fellows

Problem 1: Things offline

UGC fellows have to submit a continuation form every month to the HR section of their institute by a particular date. HR department then approves it every month. This form has to be signed by the supervisor and HOD. Why a candidate who cleared his masters, cleared a national level exam and then cleared the institute entrance exam and interview has to undergo this harassment every month? Why this approval thing all the time? I think attendance that they mark in the institute should be enough to prove that they were working. Also, getting signatures is itself a big task in this corona time. Submission date gets passed very easily. Also it is a good source of virus spread.

Problem 2: Complex procedure

After all this is done, UGC generates the bill and digitally sign it. Notification then appears on PFMS NSP portal. Within 24 hour of this, fellowship is credited to the account of beneficiary. Thus, the default mechanism delays the disbursal of stipends at least by 1 month.

Problem 3: Unspecified developments in UGC fellowship disbursal

Recently, many developments are occurring in the disbursal mechanism. No one (neither institute nor fellow) have idea about these. These are not clear and no specification is available at the UGC site. One such development is inclusion of fellowship approval mechanism by the fellow itself.

Problem 4: Problem in contacting

In case of any issue, scholars need to contact UGC. But despite of several calls and e-mails, they receive no response from the agency. This worsen the situation and make them vulnerable. In such a scenario, how can one expect from them to be at their best and to be doing their best.

Also see our post on How to activate UGC-NET fellowship

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