The Dark Side of Pursuing a PhD in India


PhD scholars in India often face high levels of stress and pressure due to the demands of their research work and the challenges they face in their personal and professional lives. This can lead to a higher risk of depression among PhD scholars.  The report published by the University of California, Berkeley on Graduate Student Happiness and Well-Being also found that almost 50% of doctoral students met the clinical criteria for depression. Nearly 68% PhD students suffer from some sort of depressive disorder, with 27% of them having moderate to severe depressive disorders, according to a study. The non-science students’ condition is more severe than that of science students. While 84% of non-science PhD students showed some signs of depression the equivalent figure was 62% for science students.

Some of the reasons why Ph.D. scholars may face depression include:

Isolation: PhD scholars often work for long hours in isolation, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from the outside world. 3-7 years they spend alone to complete their research work that much of loneliness enough for anyone to suffer from depression.

High expectations: There is often a high level of pressure on PhD scholars to perform at a high level, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome.

Lack of support: PhD scholars may feel unsupported by their supervisors or colleagues, resulting in disempowerment and helplessness. Supervisors expect students to do high-quality research work and publish their work in the high impact reputed journals but they never supports students for lab facilities and other issues in research work.

Work-life balance: Many PhD scholars struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, leading to exhaustion and burnout. They spend most of their time in the lab and other research activities so most of the students neglect their health problems and diet.

Time required for completion: In India, the average time for PhD takes 5 years and several times it takes 7-8 years. Compare to other developed countries where maximum of 3-3.5 yrs. required to completion of PhD.

Uncertainty about future prospects: PhD scholars may face uncertainty about their future job prospects, leading to feelings of anxiety and despair. Even after completion of PhD Indian students are unemployed due to low number of high qualified jobs. PhD students are not assured that they get job after completion of their research work.

Financial problems: Most of the PhD scholars are suffering from financial problems, only few PhD scholars get fellowships those who qualified in national fellowship exams, most of the fellowships are only for three year but PhD extended above three years scholars are gone in financial crisis. Other PhD scholars those who not able to get any fellowships are depends on their family for financial needs. Financial problems and dependence on family make them suffer from anxiety and depression.

Recently Indian PhD students demand hike in fellowship since last hike fellowship revised in 2018 but after that there is no new revision are made by the government. There are several issues faced by Indian PhD scholars that have led them to demand a fellowship hike. Some of the main problems are:

Insufficient stipend: The current fellowship amount provided to PhD scholars in India is considered inadequate to meet their basic needs, especially in metropolitan cities where the cost of living is high. Many scholars struggle to make ends meet and are forced to take up part-time jobs or loans to support themselves. Average fellowship in India in to lower than (Avg 35000INR) what other developed countries provide to PhD scholars (Avg 100000INR).

Delayed disbursal: Often, the fellowship amount is not disbursed on time, leading to financial difficulties for scholars. This delay also affects their research work and hampers their progress. Most of the PhD scholars get their fellowships once or twice a year in between these students borrow money from others for their monthly requirements.

Lack of research infrastructure: The infrastructure for research in many universities and institutes in India is inadequate, leading to delays in research work and sometimes, incomplete work. Several times students spend their money outsourcing the research samples in private laboratories for some highthorughput studies.

Limited opportunities for research: Many scholars face limited opportunities to carry out their research work due to inadequate resources or lack of access to specialized instruments. Most universities and research institutes are in lack of funds because they unable to maintain the high throughput instruments and specialized manpower for running these instruments.

These factors have led to a demand for an increase in fellowship amounts for PhD scholars in India, which would help them to focus on their research work without worrying about financial constraints.

In the conclusion, Indian PhD scholars suffering both financial and mental health. It is important for PhD scholars to prioritize their mental health and seek support when needed. Universities and institutions can play a role in providing mental health resources and support to their students to help mitigate the risk of depression and other mental health issues. Government authorities should seriously think about financial problems faced by PhD scholars provide relief to them by increasing fellowships. 



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