African students in India under Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) have not received their monthly stipend for over a month now, say students. They say that they have not received any explanation from the regional office or the headquarters in Delhi.
In a social media post, Ngugi Peter, a strong campaigner against racism in India, has called attention of the Bangalore Regional Office of ICCR and the Association of African Students Heads in Delhi to the problem. The allowance is given to the students who are all in the country on full scholarships. ICCR has to take care of the daily needs, food and other living expenses of students.
There is also an allegation that on top of the stipend not being paid, the students have been asked to pay Rs. 4513 for their convocation certificate. Students say that this is part of their educational expenses which has to be borne by ICCR. Both the regional office in Bangalore, Headquarters in Delhi and the Asscociation of African Students in Delhi have remained silent on the issue.
Students say that they don’t have money to pay for food and since the Indian Government does not permit foreign students to work, there is no other source of income than the stipend.’The stipend is for house rent and food,’ a student said. Since the ICCR have not paid the students for over a month, they are having problems with the house owners. The amount is given in small instalments and therefore it has left the students starving, they said.
The students intend to push a petition to hold ICCR responsible and accountable. There are rumours that it’s only the African students who have not been paid and other foreign students have been paid their stipends on time.
The ICCR regional office in Bangalore did not answer TWJ’s calls. Director cum Consultant of Scholarships and Chairs department of ICCRÂ headquarters in Delhi, Mr. Syed Mahmood Akhter said that there is no delay and that the matter ‘is under consideration of the appropriate authority, so no comments.’ He also said that the issue of paying for the convocation certificate would have to be dealt with by the regional offices of ICCR. When asked if he knew the reason for the delay in paying the stipend, he said, ‘there is no delay. Why should there be a delay?’ He refused to answer further questions saying ‘who are these students and who are you?’ asking the TWJ reporter to meet him in person in Delhi.