JNU Students protest over disruption of MPH Fellowship demand immediate reinstatement

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Students from the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) staged a protest on Wednesday, decrying the disruption of their University Grants Commission (UGC) non-NET fellowship, which provides ₹5,000 per month. This issue has persisted for the past 18 months, prompting students to demand the immediate reinstatement of their fellowship.

The root of the problem lies in administrative changes within the School of Social Sciences (SSS). Pankaj Mishra, a PhD student from the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH) department, explained that the matter has been exacerbated by the Dean passing the responsibility to other administrative sections. Despite multiple attempts to address the issue, no resolution has been reached.

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) has strongly condemned the Dean's inaction and threatened to escalate their protest into a hunger strike if the fellowship is not restored. "We will not back down until our fellow students receive their rightful fellowship," declared a JNUSU representative. The union's firm stance underscores the gravity of the situation and their commitment to securing the students' financial support.

The Dean has assured students that a decision will be made by May 27. However, given the prolonged nature of the issue, the students remain skeptical and have vowed to continue their protest until the fellowship is reinstated. Their determination highlights the significant impact that the loss of this financial aid has on their academic and personal lives.

This protest has brought attention to the broader struggles faced by research scholars in obtaining timely disbursement of fellowships. The delay not only affects their financial stability but also hampers their academic progress and mental well-being. The academic community has expressed solidarity with the protesting students, emphasising the need for a swift and fair resolution.

The disruption of the UGC non-NET fellowship at JNU is symptomatic of larger administrative inefficiencies that affect students across India. Fellowships are crucial for supporting students' research and living expenses, and delays or disruptions can have severe consequences. The academic community's support for the protesters underscores a collective demand for more reliable and efficient administrative processes.

The JNUSU's planned hunger strike serves as a stark reminder of the lengths to which students are willing to go to secure their rights. It also signals the urgency of addressing systemic issues within university administration. As the May 27 deadline approaches, all eyes are on the university administration to see if they will act decisively to resolve this issue and restore faith in their commitment to supporting student researchers.

The outcome of this protest will likely have implications beyond JNU, potentially influencing policies and practices regarding student fellowships and administrative accountability across India's higher education institutions.