Data shared by the Ministry of Minority Affairs on the Padho Pardesh scheme has revealed that 15,500 minority students benefitted from the scheme between 2017-2022 before it was scrapped by the Modi government over similar policies implemented by other ministries and the ease of receiving education loans on lower interest rates.
The centrally-sponsored scheme, which was discontinued on December 15, was helping minority students with interest subsidies. Students who were applying for Master's, Ph.D., or MPhil, were eligible for the scheme.
Answering a query asked by Achyutananda Samanta, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Lok Sabha MP, on Thursday, Minister in Charge Smriti Irani shared data with the Parliament on how many students benefitted from the scheme. The numbers showed that while there were only 1,711 students benefitting from it in 2017-18, it increased to 2,495 in 2018-2019, 3328 in 2019-2020, 3656 in 2020-21, and 4622 in 2021-22.
Though the scheme was discontinued because the interest subsidies were 'limited', Irani pointed out that the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Minority Affairs Ministry gives education loans to minority students for fulfilling their dreams of studying abroad, at low-interest rates.
The trend of cutting scholarships for students from marginalised and minority communities does not stop at Padho Pardesh, as the Union Budget 2023 also saw some major cuts. As per reports, the Centre is yet to implement three schemes - the pre-matric scholarship, post-matric scholarship, and merit-cum-means scholarship for minority students.