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Dispur for study grant on demand

- Rs 39.12cr remains undisbursed

Guwahati, May 15: The Tarun Gogoi government has requested the Centre to do away with the concept of “target” and focus on “demand” while allotting scholarships for minority students in the state.

The move follows New Delhi’s concern over Dispur’s failure to utilise central funds meant for granting scholarships to minority students. The Centre even asked the state to drop the scheme if it could not utilise the funds.

The Opposition, particularly the AIUDF, has criticised the Congress, saying that the development only exposes its hollow claims of welfare and development of minority communities in the state.

A state government official said Nazrul Islam, Assam minister for welfare and development of minorities, had recently suggested to the Union ministry of minority affairs that instead of “target”, the scholarships should be “demand driven” and both pre-matric and post-matric scholarships should be allotted to students facing genuine financial crisis.

He said it was found that money received from the Centre to award scholarships to minorities could not always be fully disbursed because there weren’t enough applicants. This, however, creates a situation where the state government has to face criticism from several quarters for not properly utilising the funds. Hence, Dispur now wants the scholarship funds to be given according to demand.

The official said a target to cover each and every minority student under the scholarships scheme was not pragmatic and would not yield the desired results.

For example, there are some eligibility criteria and formalities involved in getting the scholarships like getting minimum 50 per cent marks and filing affidavit in court saying that one belongs to the minority community. But many students are unable to fulfil all the rules and regulations and, as a result, the money remains undisbursed, he added.

Sources said Rs 39.12 crore remains unutilised under the pre and post-matric scholarship schemes. Assam had not received the pre-matric scholarship scheme for 2008-09 but the ministry of minority affairs sanctioned pre-matric scholarships worth Rs 16.83 crore and Rs 8.37 crore in 2009-10 and 2010-11. For post-matric scholarship, Rs 8.32 crore and Rs 5.60 crore were sanctioned in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Beneficiaries of pre-matric scholarships (from Classes I to X) are selected by the deputy commissioners with the help of school inspectors while the directorate of secondary education selects the beneficiaries of post-matric scholarships (Class XI to postgraduate).

Sources said Islam has also suggested to the Union ministry that the eligibility criteria of minimum percentage marks be reduced to 45 per cent.

He has also demanded that in case of post-matric scholarships, candidates should be allowed to apply both online and manually at least up to 2013, they added.

EYE ON FUNDS

Union ministry gives scholarships to minority students from Class I to
post-graduate level

Amount of scholarships varies for different classes

Meritorious students can avail scholarships upto Rs 30,000 annually to pursue technical or professional courses after their Class XII examinations

Students from minority-dominated Nagaon, Kamrup, Morigaon, Darrang,
Udalguri, Barpeta, Goalpara, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Dhubri, Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts selected for such scholarships

The Centre last year found that Assam could use only 47.71% of total funds meant for minority welfare, including scholarships