Earlier, we had looked at the sectarian bias that exists in Central Government scholarships with respect to SC/STs and Minorities. A little more digging reveals an even more abysmal state when it comes to scholarships for OBCs.
On the 15th of December 2015, in the Lok Sabha, an Unstarred question was asked to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment vide question number 2567. The question was as follows.
(a) whether the Government provides pre-matric scholarship to OBC students and if so, the details thereof;
(b) the amount that is being given for each student;
(c) whether the said amount is highly inadequate and if so, the details thereof;
(d) whether the Government is planning to increase this amount; and
(e) if so, the details thereof, and if not, the reasons therefor?
We will ignore the answers to questions c, d and e for now and concentrate on the replies given to a and b. I again reproduce the answer given verbatim
(a): Yes. The details of the scheme are annexed.
(b): The rate of scholarships and ad-hoc grant under the scheme is as under:
I. Hostellers: The students as hostellers are covered from class III to X. The rates of scholarships are as under:-
Class III to VIII Rs. 200/- per month for 10 months
Class IX to X Rs. 250/- per month for 10 months
II. Day Scholars: The students as day scholars are covered from Class I to Class X. The rates of scholarships are as under:-
Class I to V Rs. 25/- per month for 10 months
Class VI to VIII Rs. 40/- per month for 10 months
Class IX to X Rs. 50/- per month for 10 months
III. Ad-Hoc Grant An ad-hoc grant of Rs. 500/- per student per annum to all students i.e. hostellers as well as day scholars are also given.
Look at the amounts given for ‘Day Scholars’ – Rs 25/40/50 per month for 10 months in a year. This is in the year 2015-16!! What can a student do with Rs 25 per month is anyone’s guess.
I also looked at the budgetary allocations for OBC Post and Pre Matric scholarships in the Budget of 2017-18. The allocation has remained static for 2 years. The total is (885 + 142) crores since 2016-17, and is marginally higher than (823 + 121) crores in the year 2015-16.
The fact that there is no immediate plan to increase these amounts is also confirmed by the answer to sub-question (d) asked above. The answer is as below:
“For the increase in scholarship rates, which involves huge financial implications, the Department of Expenditure has not committed or assured any additional resources.”
In another Unstarred question vide number 707 asked/answered on 1st March 2016, information on the total number of OBC students who were granted various scholarships, and the total amount disbursed was sought. The information given was as follows
- Post matric scholarships:
- Total number of scholarships – 60.88 lakhs
- Total scholarship amount – 76802.8 lakhs
- Pre matric scholarships:
- Total number of scholarships – 203.52 lakhs
- Total scholarship amount – 9581.77 lakhs
- The total number of OBC students receiving scholarships in 2015-16 are 264.4 lakhs
- The total scholarship amount comes up to 86384.57 lakhs
The per-OBC-student scholarship amount therefore is Rs 327/-.
Just for comparison, I searched around for similar data related to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. As a matter of fact, the same data for minorities was provided in response to Unstarred question number 531 on the 20th of July 2016 in the Lok Sabha.
*The comparison year remains the same – i.e. – 2015-16*
- The total number of minority students receiving scholarships in 2015-16 are 3812654
- The total scholarship amount is 742.58 crores
The per-minority-student scholarship amount therefore is Rs 1948/-
Total number of students: 203.52 lakhs
Total scholarship amount: 9581.77 lakhs
Scholarship amount per pre-matric OBC student: Rs 47/-
Total number of students: 3459093
Total scholarship amount: 529.02 crores
Scholarship amount per pre-matric minority student: 1529/-
Total number of students: 60.88 lakhs
Total scholarship amount: 76802.8 lakhs
Scholarship amount per post-matric OBC student: 1261/-
Total number of students: 353561
Total scholarship amount: 213.56 crores
Scholarship amount per post-matric minority student: 6040/-
You should remember that the criteria for an individual student to obtain scholarships is very similar – such as being below the poverty line, not getting any other scholarship or assistance and so on. The only difference between the 2 segments is their religion.
(This article was first published on author’s blog on March 31, 2017 and has been reproduced here in full.)
In light of the justifiable outcry over the Modi Government’s plans to massively scale up scholarships on basis of religion & provide other benefits to ‘minority’ students irrespective of their economic or social status, it is pertinent to note that this minoritarian tilt in our polity has existed for a long time now, as analysts like Hariprasad N have clearly explained in old blogs as the one reproduced above.
The bottomline is this – Sonia Gandhi has damaged the fabric of this nation like none other in modern times, and the onus now rests on Narendra Modi to set things right and prevent us from going further down the slippery slope of legalized religious exceptionalism. Yes, the establishment cabal that Congress cultivated for decades is still controlling the public discourse, but then great leadership is about breaking stereotypes and making fundamental changes that will impact society for generations to come. Is Modi up to it?
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