Govt delay clouds Dalits' foreign study
New Delhi: Dozens of Dalit scholars selected by foreign universities for higher studies have been plunged into uncertainty, with their career prospects threatened, because the Maharashtra government delayed publishing an advertisement under the scholarship for abroad scheme.
Some students who have got offers from universities in the UK are now waiting for the government to announce the results of the Scholarship for Scheduled Caste Students for Studying in Foreign Countries, a process that should have been over by July 31.
The delay is because the social justice and special assistance department issued the advertisement in July, more than two months late. As things stand, applications for the scholarship are still being processed. Going by the usual course, it might take another month to publish the results, which means possible loss of coveted seats in UK-based institutes for some students.
The scheme was in the news last year following allegations of nepotism against the minister in charge of the department, Rajkumar Badole, whose daughter had been selected for the scholarship.
Some students who had intended to seek admission in Fall 2018 in American universities have already missed the chance. US universities start classes in August.
A student who asked not to be named said his career was at stake because he might lose the offer of doing his master's in computing science from the University of Glasgow, one of the top 100 global universities according to the QS rankings.
The money needed for the one-year course comes to about Rs 30 lakh to Rs 35 lakh.
"The University of Glasgow will start classes from September 10. If I don't show up, my offer will be cancelled," said the student who resigned from a private firm to pursue higher studies.
British and Scottish universities start classes in September-October every year.
Another student with an offer to do a PhD in electronics at a Scottish university said: "Every year the results are declared by August. The government still has time."
Guidelines for the scholarship say the advertisement has to be issued before April 30, while the final selection should be over by July 31 or "till the decision of the selection committee".
This year the advertisement dated July 4 was uploaded on the department's website on July 9. Nearly 200 Dalit students applied for the scholarship.
The scholarship - available to 75 students - covers tuition fees and accommodation costs but the offer must be from institutes among the top 100 in QS rankings. Students with parental income of less than Rs 6 lakh and who have got offers from institutions ranked between 101 and 300 can also be selected.
The student with the PhD offer said the application form too had created difficulties, as it didn't have the space to affix photographs. It also wanted candidates to submit a letter of recommendation from gazetted officers in their official letterhead. Application forms put out on the website also didn't have some pages.
This paper sent an email to Badole's office on Monday afternoon. His office confirmed receiving the mail and Badole's personal assistant Praveen Sethi said he would "get back". But no response had come when this report was filed.