In a major setback to PhD and MPhil students belonging to minority communities in Karnataka, the state government has reduced their fellowship amount to Rs 8,333 from Rs 25,000 per month, that is, by 66%.
This decision will affect around 250 students who are beneficiaries of the fellowship programme under the Directorate of Minorities of the Karnataka government.
The Directorate of Minorities (DoM) said that the curtailment of the fellowship amount has been made in view of the depleting revenues of the state government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students who are affected by the decision had sought a meeting with Minister for Minority Welfare Shrimant Patil and other related leaders but in vain. In a related decision in wake of the pandemic, the DoM has passed an order in which students will be asked to pay back their fellowship amount with a 12% interest if they fail to finish their PhD within three years.
Reacting to the development, a collective of research scholars has written to various leaders of the state to reverse this decision. In one of the letters addressed to UT Khader, former minister and opposition MLA from Mangaluru, the students said, “We understand the problem with the disbursement of funds caused by COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time, we are helpless, as it is difficult to meet the expenses of universities’ annual course fee, accommodation fee along with other expenses related to research. According to the DoM fellowship rules, we have been enrolled under a full-time PhD, and we cannot take up any full-time job during this tenure.”