Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Stipend Increase for Bhutanese Scholars in India.


Exactly a year ago, there once appeared in Business Bhutan newspaper that the stipends for Bhutanese students studying India will be increased from Nu. 3600 to Nu. 9000 per month. However, the talk never received the concentration it owed to get and had remained the poorest topic ever discussed. Days passed into months and there wasn’t any indication that the increase in the stipend is going to be materialized. Whenever I received the yellow DHL envelope, I use to open it excitedly with an expectation of increased stipend, but the sum never increased from the same Rs. 21,600, which was last revised in 2005. The sum though at a glance seems to be a good one, by the time, I complete my five-month long semester, I had to dig deep into my parents’ pocket, which seems to be an irony. Having received the stipend for my final semester a couple of weeks ago, I lost all hope in the stipend raise and thought that the officials working in the Scholarship and Student Support Division of DAHE under Education Ministry are least bothered about their students studying in India.

The scholarship students in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are getting a monthly stipend of Nu 16,875, which is nearly five times that of those studying in India considering the similar living standard. A meagre sum of Rs. 3600 per months can hardly meet our needs of having a proper food in the mess and buying the necessary academic accessories, let alone thinking for an adventurous trip during the holidays. And as the days passed by, the prices of every commodity keeps escalating; for the cup of tea we take from the tea vendors, for a kilometre ride on the auto rickshaws, for a tablet of Paracetamol  from the pharmacy shop. Forget about those living in the metro cities, the pinch of bankruptcy is felt by we students studying in the suburban’s as well.

The financial crises faced by the students soon caused a ripple with some complains and debates on online forums, as the students poured out their frustration for governments lack of concern. The students discussed their range of problems on social networking sites like facebook by creating a groups (I could not recall the name) so now it seems that the problems of our scholarship students studying in Indian Universities and colleges have reached the ultimate ears. It was a pleasant surprise when I received an e-mail from our Offtg. Chief Program Officer, Scholarship and Student Support Division, which says, “just wanted to share this good news with you all. The stipend revision for students in India is finally through.”
gonna be lil heavy lol.

At the first glance, it produced a radiance of smile on my face, but instantly I thought that those who are in the final year of their degree won’t be the beneficiaries. But going deeper, the mail says that the revision will be effective from 1st of July 2011, which means we would also be availing the rise. “You will get balance as arrears for July to Dec, 2011 and Jan-June 2012 semesters (we paid your stipend for these two semesters on the old rate earlier).” It further says so getting the news really exalted me.

However, the rise is not from Rs. 3600 to Rs. 9000 as it was mentioned last year. But the monthly stipend is increased by Rs. 900 making it Rs.4500 per month, and an additional Rs. 4500/annum as Contingency grant, which is new. I was not aware that students are getting House Rent Allowance as well, but since I stay in the hostel, I may not be the beneficiary of that. It is good to learn that house rent allowance is also increased to Rs.3500 in metro cities and Rs.3000 in other parts of India (per month) from Rs.3000 and Rs.2400 (per month) respectively. Though there is not a substantial increase in the stipend and the stipend though it is very minimal comparing to those studying other countries, this might somehow eases the financial crises faced by our laborious students, who are mostly from the families of farming background. 

“I hope that this increase makes your lives a little more comfortable than what it is today. You should note that even with this increase there is a huge financial implication on the government, given the huge size of students in India.” Mentioned Tashi Dawa sir, Offtg. Chief Program Officer. It is quite obvious but if we look from the best corner, such initiatives by the government would produce best Human Resource for the country’s near future. So if we look from the other side, if not for the additional contingency grant, its for the sake of revision.
Hoping to get the arrears at the earliest possible now! J   

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