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Funds hobble PM fellowship

Finance ministry did not give approval to the scheme involving an expenditure of Rs 300 crore, sources said

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 30.09.18, 09:10 PM
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi Picture: Prem Singh

A perceived paucity of funds has stalled progress on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement in January that 1,000 fellowships would be granted to students from ASEAN countries to pursue research in IITs, multiple officials said.

R. Subrahmanyam, higher education secretary in the human resource development ministry, told The Telegraph that the fellowship scheme was yet to be formulated. “We will take the approval of relevant departments, including the department of expenditure. Then we will formulate the scheme,” Subrahmanyam said.


Sources said the department of expenditure under the finance ministry earlier this year did not give approval to the scheme, which involves an expenditure of Rs 300 crore.

The HRD ministry had sent a concept note to the department of expenditure in February about the fellowship. The department cited a funds crunch and advised the inclusion of the fellowships in the HRD ministry’s proposed Study In India programme, a separate scheme to attract mostly undergraduate students from abroad.

The HRD ministry launched the Study In India initiative in April under which 160 institutions have agreed to create 15,000 seats for foreign students. India is projecting itself as an ideal destination for higher studies citing cost-effective and quality education. But there is not much scope for fellowships under this programme.

The HRD ministry examined the suggestion of the department of expenditure and found it difficult to include the fellowship for ASEAN students in the Study in India initiative, officials handling the programme said.

In March, the department of higher education again wrote to the department of expenditure stating that the mandate of the Study in India initiative was different from the ASEAN fellowship programme and did not offer much scope for fellowships for research students. The department of expenditure is yet to respond, officials said.

Speaking at the plenary session of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on January 25, 2018, Prime Minister Modi had declared that fellowships would be offered to students of the ASEAN countries — Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia.

“To further empower our youth in our region, I have the pleasure to announce 1,000 fellowships to students and researchers from ASEAN countries for studying integrated PhD programmes in IITs,” Modi had said.

Officials said the students would ideally have availed themselves of the fellowship from this academic session had the department of expenditure cleared the proposal.

Now the scheme may be implemented from next year at the earliest, if the department of expenditure approves.

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