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EXCLUSIVE: Decline in Minority Scholarships in all Poll Bound States Except Telangana

09 Nov 2018

AN EXCLUSIVE SABRANG SERIES (PART III)

In line with the brute majoritarian agenda of the Sangh-BJP combine, all states except Telangana –that is Madhya Pradesh(MP), Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram—show a sharp decline in the disbursals of Pre-matric Scholarships for Minorities, a pet project of the UPA under the PM’s 15 Point Programme. Tragically this is not even an election issue!


Minority scholarship 
 
The pre-matric scholarship serves as a crucial lifeline to poor minority children to access elementary education, which is a right of every child in the country. Not only has the Government shrugged the responsibility of making education accessible universally, it has cut the financial allocation to the PM’s 15 point programme started during the UPA-II regime. This has affected all states alike. All states, including the states where state elections are underway, this form of affirmative action has been denied. Not only is there no minority representation but obviously minority votes do not matter. All election bound states 2018 are reeling under the declining coverage of pre-matric scholarships to their significant minorities. Tragically, this is not even an election issue.
 
Sabrangindia has been running an EXCLUSIVE series on the deliberate and conscious decline in the PM’s Minority Scheme
 
Read:
EXCLUSIVE: Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce, as Direct Benefit
Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students
 
Also Read:

Modi Regime squeezes out ALL Minorities, Even Buddhists, from Scholarships


A majoritarian agenda is reflected in the present central government’s attitude towards minority welfare. Affirmative action for minority students is required because the living conditions of minorities are significantly worse than the general populace. However, just as the supremacist Sangh-BJP combine had rubbished the Justice Sachar Committee report that analysed the pathetic socio-economic status of India’s Muslims, an Indian polity dominated by their majoritarian agenda, is not even flagging the crucial aspect of this decline. Basic rights of the poorest of the poor, that includes India’s religious minorities stand abrogated even as elections approach.
 
The states that go to the polls are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telengana. Since Telengana was created in 2014, its population data is combined with that of Andhra Pradesh in
 
the census 2011 demographic data. Due to this the outreach of scholarship to their minorities as a percentage of total minority students enrolled in schools could not be done. Figure 1 shows the decline of pre-matric scholarship coverage to significant minorities of election bound states except Telangana.
 
Figure 1: The decline of percentage outreach of pre-matric scholarship among significant minorities of election bound states

  

  

  

As is evident from Figure 1, the minority coverage in every state has declined over the period 2011-12 to 2017-18 although the level and rates of declines are different. The coverage of Christians in Mizoram was as high as 45% of the total students enrolled in pre-matric classes and suddenly declined to a less than 20% level within the span of a year. In contrast the coverage of Muslims in Madhya Pradesh has been declining significantly over the entire period except the last year 2017-18.  
 
Pre-matric outreach to Chhattisgarh Christians, Chhattisgarh Muslims as also Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthani Christians and Sikhs experienced a peak in the year 2013-14 (UPA II regime) and has, thereafter began declining. The decline of outreach has either reached the 2011-12 level or lower for all of these sections. However, the population used to calculate the outreach is the census 2011 population which has only grown over the period. This implies that an outreach level comparable with the 2011-12 level is actually lower than that, after adjusting for population growth over the period. These declines appear even more dismal when the level of outreach is found to be lower than even 20% in every other minority except Christians in Mizoram.
 
This decline is not because the poverty levels in these states have declined or that the developmental promises of the BJP have borne fruit. The Human Development Index is a weighted index of the wealth, education and health levels in a society that indicate the socio-economic wellbeing of a society. Figure 2 shows the HDI score of these states as compared to that of India and only two out of five of the election bound states are above the HDI level of India. This implies that the socio-economic wellbeing of the rest of the states is even lower than the Indian average. The other stark characteristic is the stagnation of the HDI over the period, that is, there has been no substantial change in the socio-economic development of the states. Only the states of Telangana and Mizoram are above the Indian HDI score. The HDI of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are low but improving marginally annually. The HDI levels are not changing significantly for any state over the period.
 
Figure 2: HDI index of India vis-a-vis states with upcoming elections over the period 2011-15


 
The decline in pre-matric scholarship has a reason and is an outcome of the lower socio-economic development in these states. Education helps break the poverty trap but poverty is what stops people from receiving education, trapping them in a poverty trap. A CAG enquiry in Madhya Pradesh found that the net enrolment ratio fell for classes 1-5 from 93.66 to 78.93 from 2013-14 to 2014-15 though it increased marginally for classes 6-10. However, 14.34 lakh students dropped out of schools between standard 5-10, thus retention of students was low in MP. This decline in enrolment ratio is likely to be coupled with an increase in dropout rates in the future given that Madhya Pradesh has decided to scrap the no detention clause that it adopted while implementing the RTE act. Chhattisgarh is likely to follow in its footsteps and therefore its declining outreach amongst minorities is likely to reduce even further.
 
Both these states report extremely low quality of education with children in high classes not able to solve problems of much smaller standards. This is a nationwide phenomena for government run schools, in the fact two Indian states participated in a scheme that compares attainment around the world and came 72nd-74th out of 74 jurisdictions in reading, maths and science. Chhattisgarh teachers were reportedly also found to be reaching schools inebriated and teaching that a week has six days 46% of teachers in Madhya Pradesh are teaching without any training MP has had total strength of 117502 para teachers inclusive of contract teachers, shikshakarmis and temporary teachers like gurujis. This year, the number would increase by 50000. These para teachers do not have the basic competency in subjects and teaching techniques. The extension of compulsory education to middle school beyond primary education has come with a government strategy to appoint temporary and untrained teachers at low salaries to cope with the requirement. About 96000 out of the 1.17-lakh para teachers are working at middle school level. One third of para teachers in country are in Madhya Pradesh, this is the highest among all Indian states. There are innumerable reports on the diminishing standards of learning as well as the deplorable condition of infrastructure.
 
Besides this over the past decade low-cost private schools have also boomed. Their rolls increased from 44m in 2010-11 to 61m in 2016-17, while those in government schools fell from 126m to 108m in the 21 of India’s 29 states for which there is any data.  It is also more likely that children will be able to learn english sooner in private schools due to teaching conducted in english medium. This is an important skill due to the digital age we live in, besides it is a huge matter of prestige to be able to communicate in english.

Even as the RTE Act needs to be implemented, Rajasthan has shut about 8,000 government schools and merged others; the number of schools has dropped from 82,000 in 2013 to 63,000 now. According to the DISE report 2015-16, Mizoram saw a peak in number of Government schools in 2012-13 and a sharp decline to below 2007-08 levels in the very next year. Private schools increased at unprecedented rates from 2014-15 onwards. This might be the reason behind the stark decline in pre-matric disbursement in 2015-16, since fewer poor minority children could afford private education they dropped out of the education system. Indeed, the enrolment in government schools has been declining while that in private schools has been increasing. Only 25% of private school seats are reserved for backward students under the RTE act.

This situation of the state deliberately ensuring unaccountability and low performance in its public schools fans the rhetoric that government schools are not at with private English medium education, though there is no ‘quality check’ in private institutions with high fees charged. The state government’s negligence includes, reportedly providing schools with untrained and irresponsible teachers, infrastructure bottlenecks of basic toilets and drinking water and lack of funds at the ground level. The only way to remedy the situation is to provide funds and trained teachers to these institutions. Monitoring of teachers and maintenance of infrastructure require a boost. On the contrary despite the RTE Act the school system is unable to retain its students due to lack of teacher’s involvement and quality education.
 
Government schools are able to maintain some basic enrolment level by offering mid day meals but really education is not being made accessible because despite enrolment learning levels are extremely poor. The no detention policy is widely debated since some argue that it dumbs the student down and they fail the moment they reach class eleven and the policy is no longer applicable to them. The alternative devised to this is that students take examinations twice in class five and eight where they could be detained if they fail to perform better in an improvement exam to be held six months after the original exam. This debate does not look into the real causes of why quality education is not being imparted in government schools, but rather looks for quick-fixing the dropouts at the eleventh standard. It is much more important to get to the root of why teaching outcomes are so poor, why are teachers not motivated enough to teach and why are students compelled to dropout or stay out of the education system.
 
Ankita Rastogi is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
 

EXCLUSIVE: Decline in Minority Scholarships in all Poll Bound States Except Telangana

AN EXCLUSIVE SABRANG SERIES (PART III)

In line with the brute majoritarian agenda of the Sangh-BJP combine, all states except Telangana –that is Madhya Pradesh(MP), Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram—show a sharp decline in the disbursals of Pre-matric Scholarships for Minorities, a pet project of the UPA under the PM’s 15 Point Programme. Tragically this is not even an election issue!


Minority scholarship 
 
The pre-matric scholarship serves as a crucial lifeline to poor minority children to access elementary education, which is a right of every child in the country. Not only has the Government shrugged the responsibility of making education accessible universally, it has cut the financial allocation to the PM’s 15 point programme started during the UPA-II regime. This has affected all states alike. All states, including the states where state elections are underway, this form of affirmative action has been denied. Not only is there no minority representation but obviously minority votes do not matter. All election bound states 2018 are reeling under the declining coverage of pre-matric scholarships to their significant minorities. Tragically, this is not even an election issue.
 
Sabrangindia has been running an EXCLUSIVE series on the deliberate and conscious decline in the PM’s Minority Scheme
 
Read:
EXCLUSIVE: Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce, as Direct Benefit
Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students
 
Also Read:

Modi Regime squeezes out ALL Minorities, Even Buddhists, from Scholarships


A majoritarian agenda is reflected in the present central government’s attitude towards minority welfare. Affirmative action for minority students is required because the living conditions of minorities are significantly worse than the general populace. However, just as the supremacist Sangh-BJP combine had rubbished the Justice Sachar Committee report that analysed the pathetic socio-economic status of India’s Muslims, an Indian polity dominated by their majoritarian agenda, is not even flagging the crucial aspect of this decline. Basic rights of the poorest of the poor, that includes India’s religious minorities stand abrogated even as elections approach.
 
The states that go to the polls are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telengana. Since Telengana was created in 2014, its population data is combined with that of Andhra Pradesh in
 
the census 2011 demographic data. Due to this the outreach of scholarship to their minorities as a percentage of total minority students enrolled in schools could not be done. Figure 1 shows the decline of pre-matric scholarship coverage to significant minorities of election bound states except Telangana.
 
Figure 1: The decline of percentage outreach of pre-matric scholarship among significant minorities of election bound states

  

  

  

As is evident from Figure 1, the minority coverage in every state has declined over the period 2011-12 to 2017-18 although the level and rates of declines are different. The coverage of Christians in Mizoram was as high as 45% of the total students enrolled in pre-matric classes and suddenly declined to a less than 20% level within the span of a year. In contrast the coverage of Muslims in Madhya Pradesh has been declining significantly over the entire period except the last year 2017-18.  
 
Pre-matric outreach to Chhattisgarh Christians, Chhattisgarh Muslims as also Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthani Christians and Sikhs experienced a peak in the year 2013-14 (UPA II regime) and has, thereafter began declining. The decline of outreach has either reached the 2011-12 level or lower for all of these sections. However, the population used to calculate the outreach is the census 2011 population which has only grown over the period. This implies that an outreach level comparable with the 2011-12 level is actually lower than that, after adjusting for population growth over the period. These declines appear even more dismal when the level of outreach is found to be lower than even 20% in every other minority except Christians in Mizoram.
 
This decline is not because the poverty levels in these states have declined or that the developmental promises of the BJP have borne fruit. The Human Development Index is a weighted index of the wealth, education and health levels in a society that indicate the socio-economic wellbeing of a society. Figure 2 shows the HDI score of these states as compared to that of India and only two out of five of the election bound states are above the HDI level of India. This implies that the socio-economic wellbeing of the rest of the states is even lower than the Indian average. The other stark characteristic is the stagnation of the HDI over the period, that is, there has been no substantial change in the socio-economic development of the states. Only the states of Telangana and Mizoram are above the Indian HDI score. The HDI of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are low but improving marginally annually. The HDI levels are not changing significantly for any state over the period.
 
Figure 2: HDI index of India vis-a-vis states with upcoming elections over the period 2011-15


 
The decline in pre-matric scholarship has a reason and is an outcome of the lower socio-economic development in these states. Education helps break the poverty trap but poverty is what stops people from receiving education, trapping them in a poverty trap. A CAG enquiry in Madhya Pradesh found that the net enrolment ratio fell for classes 1-5 from 93.66 to 78.93 from 2013-14 to 2014-15 though it increased marginally for classes 6-10. However, 14.34 lakh students dropped out of schools between standard 5-10, thus retention of students was low in MP. This decline in enrolment ratio is likely to be coupled with an increase in dropout rates in the future given that Madhya Pradesh has decided to scrap the no detention clause that it adopted while implementing the RTE act. Chhattisgarh is likely to follow in its footsteps and therefore its declining outreach amongst minorities is likely to reduce even further.
 
Both these states report extremely low quality of education with children in high classes not able to solve problems of much smaller standards. This is a nationwide phenomena for government run schools, in the fact two Indian states participated in a scheme that compares attainment around the world and came 72nd-74th out of 74 jurisdictions in reading, maths and science. Chhattisgarh teachers were reportedly also found to be reaching schools inebriated and teaching that a week has six days 46% of teachers in Madhya Pradesh are teaching without any training MP has had total strength of 117502 para teachers inclusive of contract teachers, shikshakarmis and temporary teachers like gurujis. This year, the number would increase by 50000. These para teachers do not have the basic competency in subjects and teaching techniques. The extension of compulsory education to middle school beyond primary education has come with a government strategy to appoint temporary and untrained teachers at low salaries to cope with the requirement. About 96000 out of the 1.17-lakh para teachers are working at middle school level. One third of para teachers in country are in Madhya Pradesh, this is the highest among all Indian states. There are innumerable reports on the diminishing standards of learning as well as the deplorable condition of infrastructure.
 
Besides this over the past decade low-cost private schools have also boomed. Their rolls increased from 44m in 2010-11 to 61m in 2016-17, while those in government schools fell from 126m to 108m in the 21 of India’s 29 states for which there is any data.  It is also more likely that children will be able to learn english sooner in private schools due to teaching conducted in english medium. This is an important skill due to the digital age we live in, besides it is a huge matter of prestige to be able to communicate in english.

Even as the RTE Act needs to be implemented, Rajasthan has shut about 8,000 government schools and merged others; the number of schools has dropped from 82,000 in 2013 to 63,000 now. According to the DISE report 2015-16, Mizoram saw a peak in number of Government schools in 2012-13 and a sharp decline to below 2007-08 levels in the very next year. Private schools increased at unprecedented rates from 2014-15 onwards. This might be the reason behind the stark decline in pre-matric disbursement in 2015-16, since fewer poor minority children could afford private education they dropped out of the education system. Indeed, the enrolment in government schools has been declining while that in private schools has been increasing. Only 25% of private school seats are reserved for backward students under the RTE act.

This situation of the state deliberately ensuring unaccountability and low performance in its public schools fans the rhetoric that government schools are not at with private English medium education, though there is no ‘quality check’ in private institutions with high fees charged. The state government’s negligence includes, reportedly providing schools with untrained and irresponsible teachers, infrastructure bottlenecks of basic toilets and drinking water and lack of funds at the ground level. The only way to remedy the situation is to provide funds and trained teachers to these institutions. Monitoring of teachers and maintenance of infrastructure require a boost. On the contrary despite the RTE Act the school system is unable to retain its students due to lack of teacher’s involvement and quality education.
 
Government schools are able to maintain some basic enrolment level by offering mid day meals but really education is not being made accessible because despite enrolment learning levels are extremely poor. The no detention policy is widely debated since some argue that it dumbs the student down and they fail the moment they reach class eleven and the policy is no longer applicable to them. The alternative devised to this is that students take examinations twice in class five and eight where they could be detained if they fail to perform better in an improvement exam to be held six months after the original exam. This debate does not look into the real causes of why quality education is not being imparted in government schools, but rather looks for quick-fixing the dropouts at the eleventh standard. It is much more important to get to the root of why teaching outcomes are so poor, why are teachers not motivated enough to teach and why are students compelled to dropout or stay out of the education system.
 
Ankita Rastogi is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
 

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Modi Regime squeezes out ALL Minorities, Even Buddhists, from Scholarships

26 Oct 2018

AN EXCLUSIVE SABRANG SERIES

A cynical combined ploy of queezing funds from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and overall funds for the Prime Minister’s Minority Scholarship Programme in general, has left India’s minorities, large and small, with a masive decline in scholarships for deserving students


Minority scholarship

Barely 20% of India’s deserving Buddhist students, enrolled under the PM’s scheme, have been found to be receiving the Pre-matric scholarship (refer graph 2), for Sikhs (refer graph 4) this was even lower at 12%. On the other hand for India’s Muslims and Christians the best coverage is almost 45% and their average coverage is higher than the average coverage of the Buddhist and Sikh communities.
 
Poverty levels of the minorities in different states have a clear link to absence of access and deliverance of the scholarships.
 
Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) which has a Muslim majority and Punjab has a Sikh majority. Their 10.35 and 8.26 percentage populations were below the poverty line and the coverage of the scholarship remains less than 15% and 12% respectively.
 
A similar pattern is observed in the case of Christians too. Majority christian states are Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya which have 18.88, 20.87 and 11.87% populations living below the poverty line. It seems that the relative poverty of minorities has a role to play in the level of coverage that the scholarship is providing.
 
This excIusive study by Sabrabgindia has found that all the larger minorities namely Muslims, Sikhs and Christians have experienced a decline in the outreach of the scholarships while Buddhists have seen a massive decline in states where their population is significant. This might be due to a dispersed population of Buddhists because they are not a majority in any state though significant in four of them, and it is difficult for them to assert their identity over a state Government.
 
However, this is not the case with Sikhs and Buddhists. Sikhs are concentrated in Punjab and Chandigarh, where they are a majority in the state. Buddhists are significant in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram and Maharashtra. These states have seen a gradual decline in coverage over the 2011-12 to 2017-18 period.
 
The first part of this exclusive Sabrangindia Series titled “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce as Direct Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students. This may be read here.
 
Contrary to the general rhetoric of appeasing the minority we find that despite these minorities being significant, real basic benefits of equal opportunity are being systematically denied since the very start to them. It is probably the populist demands that are much more effective in winning minority electoral support over, if indeed minority appeasement occurs.
 
Mindful of these requirements the Prime Minister’s 15 point programme for minorities provides the pre-matric scholarship to minority students.
 
The pre-matric scholarship scheme has been started to “form the foundation for their educational attainment and provide a level playing field in the competitive employment arena” as it is held that “empowerment through education, which is one of the objectives of this scheme, has the potential to lead to upliftment of the socio economic conditions of the minority communities,” It also earmarks 30% of the beneficiaries to be female children. Although this remains a small percentage of reservation, bearing in mind that the girl child is more likely to be withdrawn from education due to lack of funds in a family. However, it is a progressive beginning which could be extended to reservations to SCs and STs in every religion too.
 
These percentages also depend upon the level of poverty a community suffers. It might be that say less buddhist households maybe poor and therefore lower applications for scholarship were received and so lower were granted.
 
The figures for state-wise religious poverty were not available but BPL population in states where these religious minorities are majorities can be considered a proxy of relative wealth of the minority. Buddhists are not a majority in any Indian state, however J&K has a Muslim majority and Punjab has a Sikh majority. Their 10.35 and 8.26 percentage populations were below the poverty line and the coverage of the scholarship remains less than 15% and 12% respectively. The same thing is observed in the case of Christians too. Majority christian states are Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya which have 18.88, 20.87 and 11.87% populations living below the poverty line. It seems that the relative poverty of minorities has a role to play in the level of coverage that the scholarship is providing.
 
Muslim percentage disbursement in Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have a uniform pattern of movement over the period, where they peak in the year 2013-14 and trough in the year 2016-17.
 
In Buddhist disbursement all three states move in tandem to peak at 2014-15 and trough at 2016-17.
 
The Christian-dominated states show signs of moving in different patterns but most of them peak at 2014-15 and though Punjab does not see a very pronounced decline, Chandigarh peaks at 2013-14 and begins to slide rapidly thereafter.
 
The year 2016-17 witnessed a sharp cut in funding as a sum of Rs 584.90 crore was sought to be disbursed marking an over 30% fall over the previous year. While during this year, the number of targeted beneficiaries was again 30 lakh, the number of students actually reached dwindled further to reach 31.14 lakh.The data for the year 2017-18 on state or union territory wise and community wise distribution of the pre-matric scholarship scheme for students belonging to the minority communities revealed that the “community/gender wise data” had not been reconciled.
 
According to this data the total number of beneficiaries were targeted to be 30 lakh but only about 12% of them or 3,69,549 were actually benefited in the first quarter of the fiscal till June 30, 2017.
 
The targeted group was supposed to comprise 21.39 lakh Muslims, 3.72 lakh Christians, 2.97 lakh Sikhs, 1.23 lakh Buddhists, 65,448 Jains and 1,030 Parsis. It goes without saying that the losses in terms of number of scholarships were largely commensurate with this ratio. For all the beneficiaries put together, a sum of Rs 63.13 crore was sanctioned. The lofty ideals on which the pre-matric scholarship was started have not been enough to save it from major financial cuts. Contrary to achieving a educational funding of 6% of the GDP as promised by the BJP it has now declined to 3.8%.
 
The megre increase of 2.2% in the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan over the last year allocation barely compensates for the increase in inflation and thus is doing very little to aid the implementation of the RTE Act. It is not a surprise that India has not met the 2013 and 2015 deadlines of the RTE implementation.
 
It has also not achieved the Millenium development goal of universal education by 2015. This is just the beginning, if the Government does not recognise the gravity of having a literate population the demographic dividend will fail to contribute to India’s growth. Even the slew of schemes to have smart cities, make in india, skill india and make digital India are bound to crumble at the hands of an illiterate population that stands helplessly alienated.
 
 
Graph 1: Muslim Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Muslim students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Muslim population

 
Graph 2: Buddhist Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Buddhist students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Buddhist population

 
Graph 3: Christian Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Christian students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Christian population
 

Notwithstanding the rate of growth or decline in coverage, the level of coverage is generally low. Not even 25% of enrolled minority students are receiving the prematric scholarship, except in Mizoram in one year. However, the coverage is somewhat higher in the larger minorities than the smaller ones. For instance, graph 2 shows us that at best 20% of Buddhists enrolled were receiving the pre-matric scholarship, for sikhs (refer graph 4) this was even lower at 12%. On the other hand for Muslims and Christians the best coverage is almost 45% and their average coverage is higher than the average coverage of Buddhist and Sikh communities.
 
Graph 4: Sikh Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Sikh students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Sikh population
 

 
 
Methodology
The pre-matric scholarship is being disbursed under this scheme since 2006 through the ministry of minority affairs to Muslims, Christians, Sikh, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. To find out the outreach of these scholarships overtime, selected states that the census 2011 earmarks have majority and significant populations of religious minorities were studied. The number of beneficiaries of the scholarship to say Muslims were divided by the number of Muslim children enrolled in schools between the agegroup in the specific state to understand, one in how many students are being benefitted by the scheme.
 
Background
The RTE Act 2009 ensures the access of free and compulsory education between the age of 6-14years. India is not alone in stressing the importance of nonpartisan access to education, about 135 other countries have constitutional provisions guaranteeing free and non-discriminatory education for all. In 1950, India made a Constitutional commitment to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14, by adding this provision in article 45 of the directive principles of state policy. The act postulates, “The Central and the State Governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provisions of this Act.” This makes it the responsibility of the state and central Government to ensure that elementary education is provided to every child. This implies that special measures for the backward and oppressed sections of the society are imperative. Female students, religious minorities and oppressed castes require elevated assistance to reach the confines of a school.
 
Despite 71 years since independence, penetration of education in the rural hinterland remains a challenge. Offlate technology is being seen as the facilitator of the last mile connectivity between teachers and students. The larger concern of getting parents to send their children to school has gotten somewhat eclipsed. The mid-day meal scheme served as a great incentive for parents to send their children to school because alongwith education they received much needed nutrition. The 2011 national census of India found the total number of child labourers, aged 5–14, to be at 10.1 million.
 
This is the alternative fate that numerous Indian children meet outside schools. Given this reality it is imperative that the Government take measures to get parents to enrol their children in schools rather than putting them to work. One of these measures is financial support in the form of scholarships.
 
 
Ankita Rastogi is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
 
Also Read
EXCLUSIVE: Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce, as Direct Benefit Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students

Modi Regime squeezes out ALL Minorities, Even Buddhists, from Scholarships

AN EXCLUSIVE SABRANG SERIES

A cynical combined ploy of queezing funds from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and overall funds for the Prime Minister’s Minority Scholarship Programme in general, has left India’s minorities, large and small, with a masive decline in scholarships for deserving students


Minority scholarship

Barely 20% of India’s deserving Buddhist students, enrolled under the PM’s scheme, have been found to be receiving the Pre-matric scholarship (refer graph 2), for Sikhs (refer graph 4) this was even lower at 12%. On the other hand for India’s Muslims and Christians the best coverage is almost 45% and their average coverage is higher than the average coverage of the Buddhist and Sikh communities.
 
Poverty levels of the minorities in different states have a clear link to absence of access and deliverance of the scholarships.
 
Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) which has a Muslim majority and Punjab has a Sikh majority. Their 10.35 and 8.26 percentage populations were below the poverty line and the coverage of the scholarship remains less than 15% and 12% respectively.
 
A similar pattern is observed in the case of Christians too. Majority christian states are Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya which have 18.88, 20.87 and 11.87% populations living below the poverty line. It seems that the relative poverty of minorities has a role to play in the level of coverage that the scholarship is providing.
 
This excIusive study by Sabrabgindia has found that all the larger minorities namely Muslims, Sikhs and Christians have experienced a decline in the outreach of the scholarships while Buddhists have seen a massive decline in states where their population is significant. This might be due to a dispersed population of Buddhists because they are not a majority in any state though significant in four of them, and it is difficult for them to assert their identity over a state Government.
 
However, this is not the case with Sikhs and Buddhists. Sikhs are concentrated in Punjab and Chandigarh, where they are a majority in the state. Buddhists are significant in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram and Maharashtra. These states have seen a gradual decline in coverage over the 2011-12 to 2017-18 period.
 
The first part of this exclusive Sabrangindia Series titled “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce as Direct Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students. This may be read here.
 
Contrary to the general rhetoric of appeasing the minority we find that despite these minorities being significant, real basic benefits of equal opportunity are being systematically denied since the very start to them. It is probably the populist demands that are much more effective in winning minority electoral support over, if indeed minority appeasement occurs.
 
Mindful of these requirements the Prime Minister’s 15 point programme for minorities provides the pre-matric scholarship to minority students.
 
The pre-matric scholarship scheme has been started to “form the foundation for their educational attainment and provide a level playing field in the competitive employment arena” as it is held that “empowerment through education, which is one of the objectives of this scheme, has the potential to lead to upliftment of the socio economic conditions of the minority communities,” It also earmarks 30% of the beneficiaries to be female children. Although this remains a small percentage of reservation, bearing in mind that the girl child is more likely to be withdrawn from education due to lack of funds in a family. However, it is a progressive beginning which could be extended to reservations to SCs and STs in every religion too.
 
These percentages also depend upon the level of poverty a community suffers. It might be that say less buddhist households maybe poor and therefore lower applications for scholarship were received and so lower were granted.
 
The figures for state-wise religious poverty were not available but BPL population in states where these religious minorities are majorities can be considered a proxy of relative wealth of the minority. Buddhists are not a majority in any Indian state, however J&K has a Muslim majority and Punjab has a Sikh majority. Their 10.35 and 8.26 percentage populations were below the poverty line and the coverage of the scholarship remains less than 15% and 12% respectively. The same thing is observed in the case of Christians too. Majority christian states are Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya which have 18.88, 20.87 and 11.87% populations living below the poverty line. It seems that the relative poverty of minorities has a role to play in the level of coverage that the scholarship is providing.
 
Muslim percentage disbursement in Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have a uniform pattern of movement over the period, where they peak in the year 2013-14 and trough in the year 2016-17.
 
In Buddhist disbursement all three states move in tandem to peak at 2014-15 and trough at 2016-17.
 
The Christian-dominated states show signs of moving in different patterns but most of them peak at 2014-15 and though Punjab does not see a very pronounced decline, Chandigarh peaks at 2013-14 and begins to slide rapidly thereafter.
 
The year 2016-17 witnessed a sharp cut in funding as a sum of Rs 584.90 crore was sought to be disbursed marking an over 30% fall over the previous year. While during this year, the number of targeted beneficiaries was again 30 lakh, the number of students actually reached dwindled further to reach 31.14 lakh.The data for the year 2017-18 on state or union territory wise and community wise distribution of the pre-matric scholarship scheme for students belonging to the minority communities revealed that the “community/gender wise data” had not been reconciled.
 
According to this data the total number of beneficiaries were targeted to be 30 lakh but only about 12% of them or 3,69,549 were actually benefited in the first quarter of the fiscal till June 30, 2017.
 
The targeted group was supposed to comprise 21.39 lakh Muslims, 3.72 lakh Christians, 2.97 lakh Sikhs, 1.23 lakh Buddhists, 65,448 Jains and 1,030 Parsis. It goes without saying that the losses in terms of number of scholarships were largely commensurate with this ratio. For all the beneficiaries put together, a sum of Rs 63.13 crore was sanctioned. The lofty ideals on which the pre-matric scholarship was started have not been enough to save it from major financial cuts. Contrary to achieving a educational funding of 6% of the GDP as promised by the BJP it has now declined to 3.8%.
 
The megre increase of 2.2% in the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan over the last year allocation barely compensates for the increase in inflation and thus is doing very little to aid the implementation of the RTE Act. It is not a surprise that India has not met the 2013 and 2015 deadlines of the RTE implementation.
 
It has also not achieved the Millenium development goal of universal education by 2015. This is just the beginning, if the Government does not recognise the gravity of having a literate population the demographic dividend will fail to contribute to India’s growth. Even the slew of schemes to have smart cities, make in india, skill india and make digital India are bound to crumble at the hands of an illiterate population that stands helplessly alienated.
 
 
Graph 1: Muslim Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Muslim students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Muslim population

 
Graph 2: Buddhist Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Buddhist students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Buddhist population

 
Graph 3: Christian Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Christian students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Christian population
 

Notwithstanding the rate of growth or decline in coverage, the level of coverage is generally low. Not even 25% of enrolled minority students are receiving the prematric scholarship, except in Mizoram in one year. However, the coverage is somewhat higher in the larger minorities than the smaller ones. For instance, graph 2 shows us that at best 20% of Buddhists enrolled were receiving the pre-matric scholarship, for sikhs (refer graph 4) this was even lower at 12%. On the other hand for Muslims and Christians the best coverage is almost 45% and their average coverage is higher than the average coverage of Buddhist and Sikh communities.
 
Graph 4: Sikh Beneficiaries of prematric Scholarship as percentage of total Sikh students enrolled in pre-matric classes, in states with majority or significant Sikh population
 

 
 
Methodology
The pre-matric scholarship is being disbursed under this scheme since 2006 through the ministry of minority affairs to Muslims, Christians, Sikh, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. To find out the outreach of these scholarships overtime, selected states that the census 2011 earmarks have majority and significant populations of religious minorities were studied. The number of beneficiaries of the scholarship to say Muslims were divided by the number of Muslim children enrolled in schools between the agegroup in the specific state to understand, one in how many students are being benefitted by the scheme.
 
Background
The RTE Act 2009 ensures the access of free and compulsory education between the age of 6-14years. India is not alone in stressing the importance of nonpartisan access to education, about 135 other countries have constitutional provisions guaranteeing free and non-discriminatory education for all. In 1950, India made a Constitutional commitment to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14, by adding this provision in article 45 of the directive principles of state policy. The act postulates, “The Central and the State Governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provisions of this Act.” This makes it the responsibility of the state and central Government to ensure that elementary education is provided to every child. This implies that special measures for the backward and oppressed sections of the society are imperative. Female students, religious minorities and oppressed castes require elevated assistance to reach the confines of a school.
 
Despite 71 years since independence, penetration of education in the rural hinterland remains a challenge. Offlate technology is being seen as the facilitator of the last mile connectivity between teachers and students. The larger concern of getting parents to send their children to school has gotten somewhat eclipsed. The mid-day meal scheme served as a great incentive for parents to send their children to school because alongwith education they received much needed nutrition. The 2011 national census of India found the total number of child labourers, aged 5–14, to be at 10.1 million.
 
This is the alternative fate that numerous Indian children meet outside schools. Given this reality it is imperative that the Government take measures to get parents to enrol their children in schools rather than putting them to work. One of these measures is financial support in the form of scholarships.
 
 
Ankita Rastogi is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
 
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EXCLUSIVE: Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce, as Direct Benefit Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students

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EXCLUSIVE: Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce, as Direct Benefit Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students

15 Oct 2018

AN EXCLUSIVE SABRANG SERIES

How the Modi Sarkar’s Direct Benefit Transfer has Spelt Doom for Scholarships for Minority Students


Anti Minorities
 
The Direct Benefit Transfer, hailed as a boon by votaries of the ‘free market’ who argue that such a system eliminates middlemen and emancipates the real beneficiaries of subsidies, has been spelling doom for the future of deserving students from among India’s minorities.
 
While the present Indian Government has spent crores in self-promotion since 2014, foregrounding its slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, a detailed investigation reveals a steady decline into both the allocation of funds and numbers of beneficiaries, of the Minority Scholarships Scheme, a flagship of the previous government, since 2014-2015. These schemes of affirmative action were an outcome of the findings of the Sachar Committee Report that analysed the pathetic socio economic conditions of India’s minorities.
 
The 5th point of Prime Minister’s 15 point programme prompted by the Sachar Report is scholarships for meritorious students of minority communities. This falls under the larger goal of providing equal opportunity to minorities. In line with this the pre-matric, post-matric, Merit-cum-means(MCM) and Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) are disbursed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs(MoMA). There are six religious minorities covered by the MoMA namely Muslims, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Jain and Buddhists. These schemes are all targeted to improve access of minorities to education and reduce the financial burden on their wards. However, the funds and consequently the number of beneficiaries of these schemes have been declining steadily since 2014-15.

 

This exclusion of poor minority students from education leads to higher dropout rate, acute deprivation and overtime the backwardness of communities… Digitization and direct benefit transfers can never succeed in reaching out to the genuine beneficiary of welfare schemes unless these beneficiaries are educated and equipped to read and write… No inclusive growth is possible if there is unequal opportunity to develop the minds of the next generation.

 
Aimed at providing inclusive development and access to opportunities to the poor religious minorities, the pre matric scholarship, targets students studying from Standard I to Standard X. Eligible candidates are those who secured more than 50% in the final examination and the income of their parent or guardian does not exceed 1 lakh rupees per annum. The post matric scheme applies to students studying in Indian Government or notified private institutes for technical and vocational courses with a duration of more than a year. The eligibility criteria is that the student must have scored above 50% in the last final examination and the income of parents or guardian does not exceed 2 lakh rupees per annum.The merit-cum- means (MCM) scholarship is for poor minority meritorious students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It covers students pursuing technical and professional courses at public or notified private institutions. Students scoring more that 50% in the last final examination and whose parents or guardians do not earn more than 2.5 lakh rupees from all sources annually are eligible.
 
The Maulana Azad National fellowship (MANF) for minority students is a five year scholarship for minority doctoral candidates, so as to enable them to finish pursuing higher education and find employment in academic and educational institutes. Only CBSE-NET or CSIR-NET qualified minority scholars are eligible. The student must be enrolled in a full time course and will not be eligible for any other government support after becoming a recipient of this fellowship. All the above schemes have a 30% reservation of seats for female candidates. In all the scholarship schemes, preference is given to poor and senior students and even in renewals the merit does not play a major role. It is only in the case of a tie that merit of the students is called upon to decide who will be the beneficiary.
 
The overall decline in pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarship is shown in graph 1. All the scholarships have declined beyond the year 2014-15. The slide in financial allocation to the pre-matric and post-matric scholarships has almost declined to their 2011-12 level. This is in the face of rising population and poverty in the country over the time period under consideration. The financial disbursement to the MCM scholarship generally has increased substantially over the period. But the MCM scholarship is for minority students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and of the pre-matric and the post-matric scholarships have declined and the reduction in eligible students at that level has shown a lag. Therefore, even though the MCM scholarship has not seen a decline in disbursement now it will in the future because a smaller number of poor minority students will be able to make it into higher studies because their access has been hampered by the punctured flow of the pre-matric and post-matric scholarships early on in their education.
 
GRAPH 1
 
Graph 1: Financial allocation to Pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarships in rupees crore

 
The total increase in the financial allocation to the pre-matric scholarship has been 21.8% while that to the post-matric has seen a decline of 0.43% over the six year period. The MCM allocation has grown by 180% over the time period. This increase is in part the result of the increase in the pre-matric and post-matric disbursement in the erstwhile years. As is expected with the decline in financial allocation the number of beneficiaries has also declined. The MANF reports only the number of beneficiaries in the current year which has remained steady at 756, but renewals are unknown and therefore the financial allocation decline or increase is unknown. However, in terms of the number of beneficiaries the other three scholarships have seen a decline over the 2011-12 to 2017-18 period, even as the minority population has only increased over the same period. This implies that the coverage of these scholarships has reduced even as the Right to Education Act claims to strive to ensure free and compulsory education to every child of the country.
 
The pre-matric scholarship, that coincides with the years that the RTE ensures access to education (6-14 years), has seen a 11.84% decline in the beneficiaries it has served over the period 2011-12 to 2017-18. The post-matric beneficiaries have declined at about the same rate, 11.49% to be precise. The MCM beneficiaries have more than doubled in consonance with the increase in financial allocation to the scheme.
 
It is extremely important to note that it is not the demand or number of eligible students that decides the number of beneficiaries but rather the funds allocated to the scheme which is the key determinant. Therefore, the number of applications does not pull the number of scholarships granted.
 
 
GRAPH 2
Graph 2: Number of beneficiaries of pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarships



The decline in scholarships has not been due to a decline in applications for the scholarships as shown in Graph 3. The applications for post matric scholarships have only increased over the period 2013-14 to 2017-18 peaking in 2016-17. The MCM scholarship applications have declined by 23.72%, yet the MCM financial allocation and number of beneficiaries have more than doubled overtime. This implies that the earlier a lot of MCM applicants were not receiving scholarships despite being eligible due to a paucity of funds. The decline in applications of the MCM may also be the result of digitisation of records as happened in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand State scheme for BPL minority children saw a decline of 88% in beneficiaries since the accounts were digitised in 2015-16.
 
GRAPH 3
 
Graph 3: Total Applications received for Pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarships

 
The decline has occurred due to budget cuts and the direct benefit transfer scheme as conceded by the union minister of Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on June 29, 2018. He said that the scholarship was “budget based” and not “demand driven” commenting on the divergence between the number of applications received and scholarships granted. The decline in number of beneficiaries is not due to a higher rejection rate of applications received.
 
The MCM scholarship is a case in point, the financial outlay grew, 24, 45% between 2013-14 to 2016-17, the beneficiaries increased by 21.34% while the applications declined. Were there no eligible students who were not receiving scholarships the increase in disbursement would not have been possible with a contraction in number of applicants. Thus, it is clear that the direct benefit transfer of scholarships has not led to an increase in outreach to the rightful beneficiaries. If rightful beneficiaries have received scholarships it is due to the increase in funds to these welfare schemes. But the case of the MCM is not indicative because a tapering off of the pre-matric and post-matric scholarship will thwart the access of minority children at the very elementary stage.
 
With the rise in clamour around secularism and the UN pointing out that BJP has contributed to vigilantism against minorities, it is important to highlight the systemic violence of exclusion that is being perpetuated. This exclusion of poor minority students from education leads to higher dropout rate, acute deprivation and overtime the backwardness of communities. Illiteracy is one of the key impediments in the process of bringing the populace within the net of the banking sector. Digitization and direct benefit transfers can never succeed in reaching out to the genuine beneficiary of welfare schemes unless these beneficiaries are educated and equipped to read and write. This will become a vicious circle of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy unless addressed by the Government in systematic interventions. No inclusive growth is possible if there is unequal opportunity to develop the minds of the next generation.

Ankita Rastogi is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

EXCLUSIVE: Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas a Farce, as Direct Benefit Transfers Spell Doom for Minority Students

AN EXCLUSIVE SABRANG SERIES

How the Modi Sarkar’s Direct Benefit Transfer has Spelt Doom for Scholarships for Minority Students


Anti Minorities
 
The Direct Benefit Transfer, hailed as a boon by votaries of the ‘free market’ who argue that such a system eliminates middlemen and emancipates the real beneficiaries of subsidies, has been spelling doom for the future of deserving students from among India’s minorities.
 
While the present Indian Government has spent crores in self-promotion since 2014, foregrounding its slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, a detailed investigation reveals a steady decline into both the allocation of funds and numbers of beneficiaries, of the Minority Scholarships Scheme, a flagship of the previous government, since 2014-2015. These schemes of affirmative action were an outcome of the findings of the Sachar Committee Report that analysed the pathetic socio economic conditions of India’s minorities.
 
The 5th point of Prime Minister’s 15 point programme prompted by the Sachar Report is scholarships for meritorious students of minority communities. This falls under the larger goal of providing equal opportunity to minorities. In line with this the pre-matric, post-matric, Merit-cum-means(MCM) and Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) are disbursed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs(MoMA). There are six religious minorities covered by the MoMA namely Muslims, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Jain and Buddhists. These schemes are all targeted to improve access of minorities to education and reduce the financial burden on their wards. However, the funds and consequently the number of beneficiaries of these schemes have been declining steadily since 2014-15.

 

This exclusion of poor minority students from education leads to higher dropout rate, acute deprivation and overtime the backwardness of communities… Digitization and direct benefit transfers can never succeed in reaching out to the genuine beneficiary of welfare schemes unless these beneficiaries are educated and equipped to read and write… No inclusive growth is possible if there is unequal opportunity to develop the minds of the next generation.

 
Aimed at providing inclusive development and access to opportunities to the poor religious minorities, the pre matric scholarship, targets students studying from Standard I to Standard X. Eligible candidates are those who secured more than 50% in the final examination and the income of their parent or guardian does not exceed 1 lakh rupees per annum. The post matric scheme applies to students studying in Indian Government or notified private institutes for technical and vocational courses with a duration of more than a year. The eligibility criteria is that the student must have scored above 50% in the last final examination and the income of parents or guardian does not exceed 2 lakh rupees per annum.The merit-cum- means (MCM) scholarship is for poor minority meritorious students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It covers students pursuing technical and professional courses at public or notified private institutions. Students scoring more that 50% in the last final examination and whose parents or guardians do not earn more than 2.5 lakh rupees from all sources annually are eligible.
 
The Maulana Azad National fellowship (MANF) for minority students is a five year scholarship for minority doctoral candidates, so as to enable them to finish pursuing higher education and find employment in academic and educational institutes. Only CBSE-NET or CSIR-NET qualified minority scholars are eligible. The student must be enrolled in a full time course and will not be eligible for any other government support after becoming a recipient of this fellowship. All the above schemes have a 30% reservation of seats for female candidates. In all the scholarship schemes, preference is given to poor and senior students and even in renewals the merit does not play a major role. It is only in the case of a tie that merit of the students is called upon to decide who will be the beneficiary.
 
The overall decline in pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarship is shown in graph 1. All the scholarships have declined beyond the year 2014-15. The slide in financial allocation to the pre-matric and post-matric scholarships has almost declined to their 2011-12 level. This is in the face of rising population and poverty in the country over the time period under consideration. The financial disbursement to the MCM scholarship generally has increased substantially over the period. But the MCM scholarship is for minority students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and of the pre-matric and the post-matric scholarships have declined and the reduction in eligible students at that level has shown a lag. Therefore, even though the MCM scholarship has not seen a decline in disbursement now it will in the future because a smaller number of poor minority students will be able to make it into higher studies because their access has been hampered by the punctured flow of the pre-matric and post-matric scholarships early on in their education.
 
GRAPH 1
 
Graph 1: Financial allocation to Pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarships in rupees crore

 
The total increase in the financial allocation to the pre-matric scholarship has been 21.8% while that to the post-matric has seen a decline of 0.43% over the six year period. The MCM allocation has grown by 180% over the time period. This increase is in part the result of the increase in the pre-matric and post-matric disbursement in the erstwhile years. As is expected with the decline in financial allocation the number of beneficiaries has also declined. The MANF reports only the number of beneficiaries in the current year which has remained steady at 756, but renewals are unknown and therefore the financial allocation decline or increase is unknown. However, in terms of the number of beneficiaries the other three scholarships have seen a decline over the 2011-12 to 2017-18 period, even as the minority population has only increased over the same period. This implies that the coverage of these scholarships has reduced even as the Right to Education Act claims to strive to ensure free and compulsory education to every child of the country.
 
The pre-matric scholarship, that coincides with the years that the RTE ensures access to education (6-14 years), has seen a 11.84% decline in the beneficiaries it has served over the period 2011-12 to 2017-18. The post-matric beneficiaries have declined at about the same rate, 11.49% to be precise. The MCM beneficiaries have more than doubled in consonance with the increase in financial allocation to the scheme.
 
It is extremely important to note that it is not the demand or number of eligible students that decides the number of beneficiaries but rather the funds allocated to the scheme which is the key determinant. Therefore, the number of applications does not pull the number of scholarships granted.
 
 
GRAPH 2
Graph 2: Number of beneficiaries of pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarships



The decline in scholarships has not been due to a decline in applications for the scholarships as shown in Graph 3. The applications for post matric scholarships have only increased over the period 2013-14 to 2017-18 peaking in 2016-17. The MCM scholarship applications have declined by 23.72%, yet the MCM financial allocation and number of beneficiaries have more than doubled overtime. This implies that the earlier a lot of MCM applicants were not receiving scholarships despite being eligible due to a paucity of funds. The decline in applications of the MCM may also be the result of digitisation of records as happened in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand State scheme for BPL minority children saw a decline of 88% in beneficiaries since the accounts were digitised in 2015-16.
 
GRAPH 3
 
Graph 3: Total Applications received for Pre-matric, post-matric and MCM scholarships

 
The decline has occurred due to budget cuts and the direct benefit transfer scheme as conceded by the union minister of Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on June 29, 2018. He said that the scholarship was “budget based” and not “demand driven” commenting on the divergence between the number of applications received and scholarships granted. The decline in number of beneficiaries is not due to a higher rejection rate of applications received.
 
The MCM scholarship is a case in point, the financial outlay grew, 24, 45% between 2013-14 to 2016-17, the beneficiaries increased by 21.34% while the applications declined. Were there no eligible students who were not receiving scholarships the increase in disbursement would not have been possible with a contraction in number of applicants. Thus, it is clear that the direct benefit transfer of scholarships has not led to an increase in outreach to the rightful beneficiaries. If rightful beneficiaries have received scholarships it is due to the increase in funds to these welfare schemes. But the case of the MCM is not indicative because a tapering off of the pre-matric and post-matric scholarship will thwart the access of minority children at the very elementary stage.
 
With the rise in clamour around secularism and the UN pointing out that BJP has contributed to vigilantism against minorities, it is important to highlight the systemic violence of exclusion that is being perpetuated. This exclusion of poor minority students from education leads to higher dropout rate, acute deprivation and overtime the backwardness of communities. Illiteracy is one of the key impediments in the process of bringing the populace within the net of the banking sector. Digitization and direct benefit transfers can never succeed in reaching out to the genuine beneficiary of welfare schemes unless these beneficiaries are educated and equipped to read and write. This will become a vicious circle of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy unless addressed by the Government in systematic interventions. No inclusive growth is possible if there is unequal opportunity to develop the minds of the next generation.

Ankita Rastogi is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

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