Bhalchandra Mungekar, a former member of the Planning Commission, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in opposition to the removal of courses focused on Indian heritage, culture, and history from consideration for scholarships for students from Scheduled Castes to study abroad.
“The Social Justice Ministry’s (SJM) circular disallowing students from pursuing the studies on India-related topics is highly academics as it would kill their natural interest talents,” in the letter to the prime minister, Mungekar, a former Rajya Sabha member, made these statements. The ministry informed Parliament last month that starting in 2022–2023, no topics or courses related to Indian Culture, Heritage, History, or Social Studies will be considered for scholarship awards.
The National Overseas Scholarships provide 125 seats annually for students from Scheduled Castes (SC), notified, de-notified tribes, and groups of agricultural labourers to pursue higher education at prestigious colleges abroad.
“I legitimately feel that many students would not apply and that would defeat the scheme’s purpose,” Mungekar said. “I, therefore, sincerely request you to personally intervene in the matter and ensure that this most regressive condition is removed forthwith,” he said. As vice chancellor of the University of Mumbai and later as a member of the Planning Commission, Mungekar claimed to have managed all the scholarship programmes for these students.
“The students have always been free to choose the topics for their studies. I am fully aware that they mainly choose India-related topics; and also within them, those relating to poverty, socio-economic inequalities, discrimination, and review of central and state government schemes for their socio-economic upliftment,” he said.
The study of medical, engineering, business, management, and other natural sciences has become more popular recently, according to Mungekar. Additionally, he asked the prime minister to double the number of international scholarships, to at least 200.