It is alleged that the Bihar government has transferred over Rs 8,800 crore, earmarked exclusively for the SC/ST scholarship, for the construction of roads, bridges, medical colleges and government buildings. The Indian Express reports that the state government has refused to offer scholarships to many eligible students for nearly six years, due to lack of funds.
In his 2018-2019 report on Bihar finances, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) referred to this transfer to the Scheduled Sub-Plan (SCSP) Fund. The funds were transferred despite NITI Aayog rulings that the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP) fund is intended to extend a centrally sponsored Post-Secondary Scholarship (PMS) for SC/ST students with lower annual family income. From 2.5 lakh rupees.
Limiting fees puts additional financial burden
The Bihar government has refused to grant scholarships to these students for three years since 2018-2019, citing a technical issue with the national application portal. In 2016, the state’s Department of Welfare also imposed a fee cap, increasing the financial burden on students.
The scholarship – 60 percent of which is funded by the Federation’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment – is for educational and professional courses above Category 10 up to the master’s level.
The number of SC/ST scholarship recipients in the state was 1,55,000 in 2015-16. It declined sharply in 2016-2017 when only 37,372 students were provided with these scholarships. A total of 70,886 students from SC/ST schools received the scholarship in 2017-18, but the numbers fell again in 2018-19, with only 39,792 beneficiaries, News18 reported.
On average, Bihar sees nearly five students eligible for the SC/ST scholarship, but the fee determination in 2016 put a huge financial burden on the students.
Although there is less clarity about the SC/ST scholarship in the state, the government has again called for applications under the scholarship scheme, said Chief Education Trustee, Sanjay Kumar.
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