A Parliamentary Standing Committee has raised eyebrows on Government’s failure to provide the promised Post- Matriculation Scholarship to Scheduled Tribe students. The Standing Committee of Social Justice and Empowerment said that owing to fund crisis, the Post Matriculation Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to Tribal students studying at post-matriculation or Post-Secondary levels, was not going smoothly.
We have a large number of student communities in tribal areas in different states of the country. They are educationally backward owing to their weak economic position. The Social Welfare policy of the Government of India is to provide them financial assistance by way of scholarships so that they are able to continue their education and thus contribute to the growth and modernization of the backward sections of society. It will be a sad day for them if scholarship is deferred or denied for one or the other reason. We are not convinced that the Tribal Affairs Ministry is really short of funds to meet expenditure on account of scholarship to ST students. We fail to understand why the Ministry behaves somewhat irresponsibly towards a national issue. Needless to say that the problem of insufficient fund and mounting dues of State Governments was brewing up for the last few years, a fact which has been endorsed by the Tribal Affairs Secretary before the panel but was never addressed by the Ministry.
However, latest reports are that there is some stir at the level of Tribal Affairs Ministry and the Committee is happy to find now that from the next financial year, the scholarship amount will be directly deposited in students’ account besides clearing the dues of the State Governments simultaneously. That relieves the students from a recurring uncertainty and diversion. They shall be able to devote themselves exclusively to their studies once their financial anxieties are mitigated. This has impact on the ST students in our State as well. We have a large population of tribal students and the State Government has been waiting in expectation that the scholarship scheme for these students will not be discarded as that would bring great burden on the State as the tribal students cannot be denied scholarships.