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Oversees study plan for disabled

New Delhi, June 25: The Centre has proposed a scholarship scheme for disabled students who wish to pursue higher studies abroad, in what promises to be a first.

The draft proposal of the National Overseas Scholarships for the disabled provides for scholarships to 20 students every year to study in a country of their choice at the postgraduate or PhD levels.

The fields of study include engineering, management, pure and applied sciences, agriculture, medicine, commerce, humanities and fine arts.

The proposed total outlay for the scheme is Rs 15.19 crore for three years with an estimated expenditure of Rs 12.66 lakh per student per year.

The draft proposal, drawn up by the social justice ministry, has been sent to the Planning Commission’s department of expenditure and other relevant ministries. It will then be sent to a finance ministry standing committee. If cleared, such a scheme would be a first for disabled students.

The minimum requirement to apply for a scholarship to do a PhD is a score of 55 per cent or an equivalent grade at the master’s level. For a master’s level scholarship, a score of 55 per cent or an equivalent grade at the bachelor’s level is required. The candidate has to be less than 35 years old with an income of less than Rs 6 lakh per annum.

Financial assistance under the scheme would include an annual maintenance allowance of US $15,400 for all countries except the UK. For the UK, it would be £9900.

The scholarship would take care of tuition fees, visa fees, medical insurance, cost of air travel between India and the place of study as well as local travel there.

“This is a great idea,” said rights activist Amba Salelkar. “But this should be properly thought out as such students need assistive devices and medical cover that includes their specific disabilities…. The aid given to them has to take that into account. ”