GUWAHATI, April 19 - At a time when political parties are propagating their own development agendas in their election manifestos, a section of scholars of the State are of the opinion that it is only through the introduction of a concrete state policy for research that actual development of the country can be attained.
�The approach of both the State and the Central governments has been discriminatory in nature so far as granting fellowship to carry out research work is concerned. Today, in case of state universities, only research scholars who clear NET-JRF are eligible for monthly scholarships. But, in case of central universities, a scholar is entitled to scholarship the moment he secures admission in PhD and MPhil courses. As a result, research scholars in state universities are finding it difficult to continue with their work,� Sanjib Talukdar, a research scholar in the Department of Botany, Gauhati University, told The Assam Tribune.
Talukdar, who has started his research on bio-diesel, which is a part of the emerging trend of alternative fuel, asserted that the state universities lack full-fledged laboratories, which makes it even tougher to carry out research work.
�In Assam, well-equipped laboratories are available only at the IIT and bio-tech parks. But, for an outsider to avail those facilities, a certain amount of fee is required to be paid, which is not possible for scholars like us. It is a big problem for us. We need a policy for state university research which could address those issues,� Talukdar said.
Explaining further the issues concerning the research scholars in the State, he said, �Recently the government curtailed around 60 per cent fund in the research and development sector. Earlier there was a UGC-sponsored special assistance programme at every university where four to five students were engaged by the authority with a monthly stipend. But the programme has since been discontinued. Recently, following a series of protests, the Central government hiked the amount of NET fellowship, but did not take any step for the benefit of non-NET research scholars.�
According to Talukdar, crisis of hostel seats is also a serious problem for research scholars, especially at the Gauhati University.
�Today research output in many state universities has been decreasing only because of the financial hardships faced by research scholars. If society is to get real benefits from various research works undergoing in various higher educational institutions, then government has to mitigate the financial hardship of research scholars,� he added.
Shabnam Shahin, a research scholar in the Department of Mass Communication, Gauhati University, who is doing research on film studies, alleged that research on films still has lots of challenges in Assam in terms of both fund and resources.
�We often witness people craving development of Assamese cinema. But we still lag behind in terms of developing an environment for film studies and research. We need adequate numbers of books on films in our libraries with an adequate number of research guides. There is also the need to encourage new students to pursue research after completing postgraduation,� she said.
�The jati will be safe, if the language remains safe. Every language of Assam could be preserved and developed if government takes steps to accelerate the research work. But we have not seen any such steps from the State government. We need proper infrastructure, including digital equipment. It is the need of the hour to hike funds for cultural and social science research in the State. One research scholar of cultural studies or any other social science needs to do lots of field work, which costs a lot. But due to lack of government assistance, many scholars continue to face lots of financial hardships,� said Manash Jyoti Sarma, a research scholar in the Department of Assamese, Gauhati University.
Kamal Adhikary, a research scholar in the zoology department of the same university, who is doing research in entomology, said, �To concentrate properly on research we need financial security. But for non-NET research scholars of the state universities, there is no such security, which affects our research work a lot.�