31 Aug The State of Scholarships for Minorities
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “The State of Scholarships for Minorities”. The topic “The State of Scholarships for Minorities” has relevance in the “Governance” section of the UPSC CSE exam.
Various initiatives aimed at enhancing educational empowerment among minority communities.
GS2: Polity and Governance
Why in the news?
Recent years have witnessed the discontinuation of two major minority education schemes, a reduction in the scope of another, and a gradual budget decrease for various Ministry of Minority Affairs programs.
Who are the Minorities?
- While the Constitution of India does not provide a definition for “minority,” the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992 outlines a minority community as “a community notified as such by the Central Government.”
- Under this Act, the following six communities have been notified as minorities: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis (Zoroastrians).
- India is home to more than 300 million ( 20% of the population) belonging to religious minority groups.
Introduction of Scholarships for Religious Minorities in India:
- Addressing Minority Deprivation: The introduction of scholarships for religious minorities aims to address the social, economic, and educational challenges faced by these communities.
- Sachar Committee Report: The Sachar Committee’s findings underscored the marginalised status of Muslims and other minorities in various aspects of development. This report highlighted the need for targeted measures.
- Establishment of Ministry of Minority Affairs: In response to these findings, the UPA government established the Ministry of Minority Affairs to focus on issues affecting notified minorities. This move aimed to ensure a more concentrated approach to their upliftment.
- Revised 15-Point Programme: The government revamped its 15-Point Programme to include educational empowerment, leading to the provision of scholarships for minority students.
Various Welfare Schemes aimed at Educational Empowerment among minority communities and their Status:
|Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme||Financial assistance for minority students in classes 9 and 10.||
|Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme||Scholarship for minority students from class 11 to Ph.D.||
|Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship Scheme||Scholarships for professional and technical courses.||
|Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF)||Financial support for M.Phil and Ph.D. research scholars.||
|Padho Pardesh||Interest-free education loans for international studies.||
|Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship||Scholarship for meritorious girls pursuing higher secondary education.||
|Naya Savera||Free coaching for minority students for technical courses and exams.||
|Nai Udaan||Support for minority students preparing for competitive exams.||
|Scheme for Providing Education to Madarsas||Subsidy for modern subjects in recognized madrasas.||
|Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK)||Infrastructure development in minority concentration areas, including education.||
Impact of Reduced Budget on Minority Education Schemes:
- Decrease in Beneficiaries: Over the past three years (2019-2022), the beneficiaries of central educational schemes for minorities reduced by around 7%. Specifically, scholarships awarded dropped from 67.3 lakh in 2019-20 to 62.6 lakh in 2021-22.
- Underutilization of Funds: Despite initial allocations, several programs faced underutilization of funds. The pre-matric and post-matric scholarship schemes, for instance, saw lower spending than initially estimated.
- Impact on Scholarships: The merit-cum-means scholarship for professional and technical courses faced funding cuts. The allocation for the post-matric scholarship scheme increased, but underutilization issues persisted.
- CBGA Report Findings: A 2022 report by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) highlighted a declining trend in minority budget allocation. It also noted that scholarships were often disbursed toward the end of the academic year, implying that recipients were obtaining their scholarships solely in the latter part of the academic year.
Importance of Strengthening Educational Aid for Minorities
- Affirmative Action for Socio-economic Progress: Niti Aayog’s 2018 Strategy Document emphasizes the necessity of affirmative action to enhance the socio-economic standing of religious minorities, particularly Muslims, who lag behind in various domains.
- Alarming Dropout Rates: Data from the Institute of Objective Students indicates a higher dropout rate among Muslims (23.1%) compared to the national average (18.96%). This raises concerns about the effectiveness of education policies, including the Right to Education.
- Lower Higher Education Enrollment: The All India Survey on Higher Education reveals a substantial gap in higher education enrollment for Muslim students, dropping from 5.5% to 4.6% in 2020-21. Other minority groups also experienced declines.
- Regional Disparities: The survey highlights regional disparities, with Kerala and Telangana showing increased Muslim student enrollment while Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have lower figures.
- Strengthening Scholarships: The 2018 Niti Aayog policy document suggests boosting pre-matric, post-matric, and merit-cum-means scholarships, among others. A recommended annual increase of 15% from 2019-20 is advised. Additionally, a yearly augmentation of 10% in scholarships for girls from minority communities is proposed.
- Customized Interventions: The Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability’s Report underscores leveraging the 15-Point Programme to formulate tailored interventions for minority development.
Q1. With reference to Minorities, consider the following statements:
- The term “minority” is not explicitly defined in the Constitution of India.
- According to the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992, a minority community is defined as any community apart from Hindus.
- The Act designates the following communities as minorities: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis (Zoroastrians).
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Q2. Consider the following pairs:
|1. Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF)||Financial support for M.Phil and Ph.D. research scholars.|
|2. Nai Udaan||Free coaching for minority students for technical courses and exams.|
|3. Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship||Scholarship for meritorious girls pursuing higher secondary education.|
|4. Naya Savera||Support for minority students preparing for competitive exams.|
How many of the abovementioned pairs are correctly matched ?
(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) Only three
(d) All Four
Q3. Recent years have witnessed significant changes in minority education schemes in India. Discuss the impact of these changes on minority education and highlight the importance of strengthening educational aid for minorities.