The government is proposing to increase the income eligibility criteria for Scheduled Castes (SCs) that would enable more students to be eligible for scholarships. Presently for a student to avail scholarship, the parents’ annual income should not exceed Rs 4.5 lakh, according to the Indian Express. The new proposal seeks to increase this income to Rs 6 lakh per annum. The Centre provides scholarships to SC students for the admissions to IITs, IIMs etc under the ‘Top Class Education Scheme’. The government funds provide for the students fees, accommodation, books and computers, the report said. An official at the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment told IE that income criterion for the National Overseas Scholarship for SC students is Rs 6 lakh per annum. They now want students to get the same benefits within India. According to officials, this is in line with the plan to rationalise all scholarship schemes, that is, to make them even across all reserved categories. Parents’ annual income for SC students should not exceed Rs 2.5 lakh for a post-matric scholarship. Whereas only those OBC candidates whose parents earn below Rs 45,000 per annum are eligible.
The ministry official told the Indian Express, “The schemes were started at different times, and various income limits were specified each time. In trying to revise the income ceiling, and in some cases increase the scholarship amount, an enhanced budget would be required as the number of students who will become eligible would be very large. Hence, we are examining the financial implication of this proposal.”
A shocking ministry data shows that SC scholarships worth Rs 5,500 crore are outstanding and many students have not received money for two years since the culmination of the scheme. The schemes are under Article 46 of the Constitution, and provide 100 per cent funding for Dalit students. The pre-matric scholarship has been set up with an aim to decrease student drop-outs, and the post-matric scholarship is to enable students to complete their higher education.