The Union Cabinet approved the implementation of Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) scheme at a total cost of Rs 1,650 crore for a period of seven years beginning 2018-19. The scheme was announced in the Budget speech 2018-19.
Under this new scheme, the ‘meritorious’ students who have completed or are in the final year of B.Tech or Integrated M.Tech or M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/IITs/NITs/IISERs/IIITs will be offered direct admission in the Ph.D. programme in the IITs/IISc.
There is no mention of how the merit and eligibility criteria of students are met and whether the minority students have a reservation quota on this scheme. This new scheme is announced when scholarships are delayed to meritorious Scheduled Caste Students.
Currently Rs 8,000 crore is Modi government’s unpaid bill towards scholarships for the Scheduled Caste students. Students suffer as the government doesn’t issue funds on time. There are allegations that many a times government diverts the money allocated for the Dalit students to other schemes making the life extremely difficult for the minority students thus many dropping out or ending like Rohith Vemula.
With this new scheme, students, who fulfil the eligibility criteria, and are shortlisted through a selection process, as laid down in the PMRF guidelines, will be offered a fellowship of Rs 70,000 per month for the first two years, Rs 75,000 per month for the third year, and Rs 80,000 per month in the fourth and fifth years.
Apart from this, a research grant of Rs two lakh will be provided to each of the fellows for a period of five years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.
A maximum of 3,000 fellows would be selected in a three year period, beginning 2018-19.