Editorial: As good as ending minority scholarships

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Thursday, December 01, 2022, 10:45 PM IST
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Scholarships for students from religious minorities was a flagship programme of the UPA Government. When Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, it was continued, subject to modifications — restricted to just two from a family, it was available from Class I to postgraduate courses. If a student failed in one class, the scholarship would not be stopped as long as he or she studied. Under the BJP dispensation, the scholarship terms became less liberal. However, what mattered was that it was continued to the satisfaction of tens of thousands of students all over the country. However, things are now murky on the scholarship front.

Students in classes I to VIII will no longer be eligible for the scholarship, which will begin only from Class IX. This has come as a rude surprise for the beneficiaries, particularly when the Union Government had earmarked Rs 1,425 crore for the scheme this year. Since 2014-15, the scholarships have benefited 5.20 crore students, including 3.36 core Muslims, 53.19 lakh Christians, 35 lakh Sikhs and 12 lakh Buddhists. Pre-matriculation students were eligible for a scholarship of Rs 225 per month if they were day scholars and Rs 525 if they were hostelites. Besides, they were also entitled to get an amount to buy textbooks. The Central and state Governments have spent Rs 9,057 crore during the last eight years on a 75:25 ratio.

By no stretch of the imagination can this expenditure be considered beyond the means of a nation, which is the third-largest in terms of purchasing power parity. The scholarship was available only to those whose parents had an annual income of not more than Rs 2.5 lakh. To avail of the scholarship, they could admit their wards to any school. Now, the question is how will a parent, who is poor, educate his children up to Class VIII to avail of the scholarship available from Class IX onwards? What is the guarantee that the Government will not change the rules of the scholarship to suit its convenience? If, for instance, the Government announces a substantial scholarship for post-doctoral studies to students whose annual income is less than Rs 2.5 lakh, will there be any takers? Clearly, the intention is to end the scholarships in one way or another. Alas, this does not show the Government in a good light.

Beware! Hon’ble dog is on the road

In basic grammar, children are taught the difference between a common name and a proper name, such as “man” and “Mahesh”. Someone who does not know Mahesh’s name will refer to him as “man”. Similarly, rickshaw puller Shivsagar Gokul Patil (60) of Bhandup in Mumbai referred to a dog as a “dog”, as he did not know the dog’s name. However, this incensed the dog’s owner, Rahul Bhosle, who proceeded to thrash Mr Patil for not calling the animal by her name – Lucy. Apparently Lucy had been strolling along the road and Mr Bhosle had asked the rickshaw driver to watch out and see who was on the road. Mr Patil said that yes, he could see a dog… and thus began the tale.

What ensued was an attack on Mr Patil, which ended with bystanders intervening, Mr Patil being taken to hospital, and the police eventually arresting the dog owner on the complaint of the rickshaw driver. If only Mr Bhosle had warned Mr Patil that his pet was christened Lucy and she did not like to be called by her generic name! However, nowhere does the report say that Lucy objected to Mr Patil referring to her as a dog. In retrospect, Mr Patil should have guessed that he should have been deferential to the dog. After all, Mr Bhosle had warned him to ply the rickshaw carefully so that he did not disturb the tranquillity on the road that Lucy enjoyed. What’s in a name? Everything, it seems, when it belongs to a dog and there’s an indignant human at the end of the leash.

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