New Delhi: In what is likely to impact the morale of students from minority communities pursuing higher education in the country, a data provided by the government shows there has been a significant decrease in the number of scholarships granted and in the number of students who have benefited from these grants in the last five years.
The allocation of scholarships has been reduced by a big margin the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
The data, accessed by News18 through RTIs and government reports, shows that there has been a dip not only in the funds disbursed by the government but also in the number of beneficiaries pursuing higher education in both private and government universities.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs provides scholarships to students coming from six different minority communities under three schemes- Post-Matric scholarship, Pre-Matric scholarship and Merti-Cum-Means scholarship.
All three scholarships are given to students from economically weaker sections. While Post-Matric scholarship is awarded to students pursuing higher education, Merit-Cum-Means is offered to those enrolled in professional and technical courses.
While the data shows Pre-Matric scholarship scheme for primary education hasn’t suffered much change in the last five years, the remaining two schemes, meant to benefit those pursuing class 10 and above, has witnessed a reduction in funds and beneficiaries in the last five years.
Six minority communities, including Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Parsi, are eligible for these scholarship schemes.
Fund Cut Despite Increase in Budget Allocation
The data also highlights that these scholarships registered a fall despite there being an increase in the overall budget allocated to the ministry.
In the Post-Matric scholarship, the amount spent on the scholarship dipped to Rs 412.8 crore in 2018 from Rs 598 crore in 2014.
The amount spent on Merit-Cum-Means scholarship was reduced to Rs 280 crore in 2018 from Rs 335 crore in 2014.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs was allotted Rs 4,700 crore in 2018-19 against Rs 3,711 crore in 2014-15.
Dip in Beneficiaries
The figures show that though the number of students applying for Post-Matric increased between 2014 and 2018, the number of scholarships decreased during that time.
The number of students who were awarded the Post-Matric Scheme was reduced to 6,65,118 in 2018 from 9,05,620 in 2014. However, the number of students applying for the scholarship increased to 20 lakh in 2018 from 15.9 lakh in 2014.
In case of Merit-Cum-Means scholarship, which the government allots for professional courses, the number of beneficiaries was reduced to 1,03,690 in 2018 from 1,38,770 in 2014. The applicants were also reduced to 3.2 Lakh in 2019 from 4.6 Lakh in 2014.
No Scholarship Despite Verification
Despite a high number of applicants in the scheme, not even a third make up to the list. Of the 3.26 lakh applicants for Merit-Cum-Means, only one lakh received the scholarship.
Among the 20 lakh students who apply for Post-Matric scholarship, only 6 lakh or 33 per cent received the scholarship. After the applicants apply for a scholarship, there is a series of verification process, only after which the selected students qualify for the scholarships.
Though the verification data isn’t available for 2018, a previous data shows that despite the verification process getting complete, candidates didn’t receive their scholarship for that year.
In case of the Post-Matric scholarship too, despite the verification, around one lakh students couldn’t receive the scholarship2017-18. In Merit-Cum-Means, around 12,000 students did not get the scholarship in 2017.
During a meeting at Antyodaya Bhawan recently, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that several scholarships such as Post-Matric and Merit-Cum-Means will be provided to five crore students from minority communities in the next five years. But seeing the current records, the promise seems unattainable.
We reached out to the Union Minister, but he declined to comment on the matter.[“source=news18”]