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Why Indian Science Students Have Been Out On Strike

Indian Science Students Strike

Thousands of Indian PhD students have been on protests in New Delhi and have taken strike action in response to a delayed pay rise. A smaller number have even been on hunger strike.

The latest protests are continuation of similar action seen last year over the same issue. Following student action last year, the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) announced that graduate student monthly wages would rise from $289 to $482 (as Nature reported at the time).

However, for most students, Science Insider reports, these pay raises were never realized. In addition, many students continue to be paid up to six-months in arrears.

Wage

Indian science students on strike against delayed pay rise

As to why students are being paid, the students in question are graduates on doctorate programs. As part of their doctorate training, the students are expected to lecture and tutor undergraduates.

Outlining the position, Pankaj Jain, secretary of academic affairs of the students’ council at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, wrote in a letter to India’s Prime Minister in January, on behalf of the graduate students. in the letter, quoted by Nature, Jain states: “We are still struggling for a notification from many other departments and there is complete uncertainty about all those fellowships. This has unfortunately forced us to explore the mysteries of government procedures, rather than exploring the mysteries of science.”

The authorities have yet to pay the promised sums, so it seems likely that the protests will continue for a little while longer. However, in a sign of a breakthrough, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, has given sufficient assurances that the hunger strikes have all been called off.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.