SFI demands hike in MANF fellowship, calls out selective discrimination against minority students

The UGC has approved a hike in JRF and SRF research fellowships. However, there is no update on increase in stipend for MANF scheme awardees.

MANF Fellowship: The group has called for university-level protests. (Image: DU SFI protest/Official X account)MANF Fellowship: The group has called for university-level protests. (Image: DU SFI protest/Official X account)

Anu Parthiban | December 8, 2023 | 12:54 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Demanding ‘equal treatment’, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) has asked the Centre for an immediate hike in the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF). The Union government has discontinued the MANF fellowship for the upcoming batch, a move which was condemned by academics and a large section of students.

Last year in December, the ministry of minority affairs announced that it’s discontinuing MANF as it overlaps with three other schemes - pre-matric scholarship scheme, post matric scholarship scheme and merit-cum-means based scholarship scheme.

The students group called out the ‘unjust discrimination’ compared to other fellowships like UGC Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), National Fellowship for Other Backward Classes (NFOBC), National Fellowship (NF) Scheme for Scheduled Caste (NFSC/ST).

The group has called for university-level protests against the decision of the Centre. “The students in India deserve, and SFI demands, equal treatment for all in education, irrespective of their religion. We demand an immediate increase and the reinstatement of MANF, urging the government to streamline the disbursement process, ensuring the efficient resolution of delays,” the students said.

It said that the Centre is continuing discrimination against minority students by selectively not increasing the amount for existing MANF fellows.

All the research fellowships for minority students are mandated to distribute amounts equivalent to the fellowship amounts of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), it said.

The UGC has approved a hike in research fellowships this year from Rs 31,000 to Rs 37,000 for JRF and Rs 35,000 to Rs 42,000 for SRF.

The group claimed that the students have started receiving revised fellowships amounts with pending arrears after the approval of the Centre. However, MANF awardees are left in limbo as there is no update on hike in fellowship.

“The selective withholding of MANF is highly communal and targets students belonging to minority communities. The BJP government's attempt is politically motivated and will severely affect the future of a significant section of research scholars in the country,” it said.

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