Representative image (Image: Reuters).
The scholarship for more than 60 lakh scheduled caste (SC) category students of Class 11 and 12 is stopped across 14 states as the Centre has stopped funding their portion of the scheme as per the 2017 formula, The Economic Times reported.
The issue is pending before the Union Cabinet for over a year and was discussed in detail by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in early November, it said.
Originally, expense for the All India Post Matric Scholarship Scheme was borne jointly by states and the Centre, but the latter has been providing only 10 percent since 2017-18 under “committed liability” – from which point states began discontinuing or scaling it down for want of funds.
Committed liability is the expenditure mandated for states and union territories to be incurred for the Five Year Plan period per year under Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Scholarships, against which further funding from the Centre is facilitated.
The meeting discussed how the Finance Ministry’s push on committed liability placed 90 percent of the burden on states, reducing the Centre’s contribution from 60 percent to 10 percent during the 12th Finance Commission period (2018), the report said.
During the meeting it was also noted that this scheme is the only centrally sponsored one to not follow the 60:40 formula, which has led to “strong objections” from states that say the condition has become “the biggest hurdle” as they are expected to “cough up huge funds.”
Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Telangana have repeatedly taken up the matter with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, as per the report.
It added that the Social Justice Ministry has in turn requested the Finance Ministry to revert to the 60:40 formula and release funding for hostels, maintenance and tuition fees.
The scheme is vital as it provides eligible senior minority students with 100 percent scholarship and scheduled tribe (ST) candidates with 75 percent scholarship to complete their education. It gives financial assistance of Rs 18,000 per year to eligible students of Class 11 and 12 and ensures increased participation of SC students in higher schooling and further higher education.