New Delhi: In some disappointing news for minority students, Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani told the Lok Sabha that there is still no proposal to reinstate the Pre-Matric Scholarship for students from class 1 to 8 or restore the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) scheme for research students from minority communities.
Irani has justified the same in her reply to the Lok Sabha. "This modification has also been done to harmonize the scheme with identical Scholarship schemes implemented by other Central Government Ministries," Irani told the Parliament.
Various schemes intended for minority communities and lower castes have also seen cuts in Union Budget 2023-24. For example, the Pre-Matric Scholarship for OBCs, EBCs, and DNTs saw a drastic cut of 41%, while the funds for the same have been earmarked at Rs. 281 crores down from Rs. 478 in Budget Expenditure in 2022.
While OBC fellowships have received only Rs. 57 crores, national fellowships for SCs and STs have decreased or remained stagnant from Rs. 173 crores to 163 crores and Rs. 145 crores respectively.
"It has been observed that the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) scheme of UGC and CSIR is open to students of all categories. Besides, students from minority communities are also covered under National Fellowship Schemes for Scheduled Castes and OBCs implemented by the ministry of social justice & empowerment and National Fellowship Schemes for Scheduled Tribes implemented by the ministry of tribal affairs,” Irani stated in her reply.
The government had earlier restricted Pre-Matric Scholarships for Class 9 and 10 students attributing it to not following the guidelines for Right To Education which guarantees free and quality education to all children till Class 8.
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