Chief minister Nitish Kumar receives a cheque of Rs 2.5 crore towards the CM’s Relief Fund from Bihar Bhavan Nirman Nigam official members in Patna on Monday. (PTI)
Patna, March 20: A person who has studied beyond Class XII is not worthy of assistance to find a job, according to the Nitish Kumar government.
The state government's ambitious scheme to provide self-help allowance of Rs 1,000 per month for two years to unemployed youth in the age group of 20-25 years is only for those who stopped studying after Intermediate (Class XII), did not take admission into undergraduate courses or did not pursue higher studies of any kind, a senior government official has confirmed to The Telegraph.
"The guidelines of the scheme mention that the designated allowance will be given only to those who have passed Class XII but have not studied further or have not taken admission to courses related to higher studies," a senior official of the planning and development department - which is handling the scheme - told The Telegraph today on the condition of anonymity. "The rules have to be followed, hence we are not giving it to anybody who does not fulfil the criteria."
That, however, was not the original plan of the Mukhyamantri Nischay Swayam Sahayta Bhatta Yojana, a part of Nitish's "seven resolves for a developed Bihar", which was launched on October 2 last year. The scheme was meant to provide financial aid to unemployed youth in filling up job forms and travelling to appear for examinations and interviews. The chief minister had often mentioned it in his speeches at public and political gatherings, kindling hope among lakhs of such youth across the state.
He had never mentioned that those who have studied beyond Class XII would not qualify for the scheme.
For example, at the state-level bankers' committee meeting on January 6 this year, Nitish had said: "We will provide opportunities for skill development to youth after Class XII and will provide Rs 1,000 per month as allowance for two years to unemployed youth in the age group of 20 to 25 years to help them find employment."
Similarly, on August 28, 2015, in the run-up to the Assembly elections, Nitish, while unveiling his vision document for the next five years if voted back to power, had said: "Unemployed youth in the age group of 20 to 25 years would be given an allowance to support themselves for finding jobs. The government will register them and give them Rs 1,000 per month to search for jobs."
Obviously, the plan was tweaked somewhere down the line - limiting the scheme to only those who have not studied beyond the Intermediate level. Planning and development department officials were not clear how or why such conditions or riders were incorporated while implementing the scheme.
District registration and consultation centres across the state have received around 1.19 lakh applications for the self-help allowance, of which 36,740 have been sanctioned. Till now 23,534 unemployed youth (educated only till Class XII) have started receiving the allowance in their bank accounts.
Those unemployed youth who are "over-qualified" (read have studied beyond Class XII) for the allowance are being made aware about the student credit card scheme under which they can avail of an education loan of up to Rs 4 lakh, the senior planning and development department official said.
However, even that scheme is not without its hiccups. As The Telegraph had reported in its January 17 edition, state government officials are blaming the low numbers of students availing the credit card on banks, which have made PAN cards mandatory for "applicants" (students) and "co-applicants" (parents or guardian).
BJP chief whip Rajnish Kumar, through an adjournment motion, raised the allowance issue in the Legislative Council today, which led to the adjournment of the House during Zero Hour.
He and other Opposition legislators demanded that the allowance be given to all unemployed persons in the age group of 20-25 years, even if they have completed graduation or postgraduate courses.
"The state government has no money or resources to fulfil the seven resolves of chief minister Nitish Kumar, hence such riders and conditions have been incorporated into the much-publicised scheme," alleged senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi. "The government never talked about the conditions for the scheme and generated false hopes among the unemployed youth in the age group of 20-25 years."
Sushil also pointed out that the state government was now advertising that cases would be lodged and money would be recovered from those who are studying or have studied beyond Class XII and yet have availed of the allowance. This, he alleged, was akin to penalising people for seeking higher education.