Nov 26, 2020: New Delhi: A key central scholarship scheme to help over 60 lakh Scheduled Caste students of classes 11 and 12 to complete their schooling has nearly shut down across more than 14 states after the Centre ended funding to states under a 2017 formula.
The issue, pending Cabinet approval for nearly a year now, was recently escalated to the Prime Minister’s Office and discussed in detail including in meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At the early November meeting it was pointed out that while eligible senior
school goers from the minority community get 100% centrally funded
scholarships to enable them to complete schooling, Scheduled Tribe students
get 75% centrally funded scholarships.
However, over 60 lakh senior school goers from the Scheduled Caste categories
are faced with a funds crunch from the Centre as the latter funds only 10% of
the scholarship scheme. As a result, state after state is beginning to
discontinue the scheme or running it in very limited scale since 2017-18. The all India Post Matric scholarship scheme for SCs gives nancial assistance of about Rs 18,000 per annum to SC students at post matriculation/post secondary stage (Classes 11, 12 up) to help them complete their education.
ET gathers that the PMO meeting was apprised of how a 2017-18 era ‘committed liability’ funding formula by the nance ministry had resulted in 90% of implementation burden falling with states even as central funding for the scheme dwindled from near 60% in the 12th Finance Commission period down to 10% in 2018.
This is also the only Centrally Sponsored Scheme which currently does not the follow the 60:40 Centre-state funding formula, leading to strong objections from across states.
‘Committed liability’ refers to the total expenditure incurred in the terminal year of the Five Year Plan under Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Scholarships. This amount becomes the ‘committed liability’ of the States/UTs for every year of the subsequent Five Year Plan—meaning that they have to compulsorily pitch in with this amount annually to receive any further central funding.
This condition has, in effect, become the biggest hurdle in its implementation with states expected to cough up huge funds and they expressing their inability to do so. As a result, the implementation of the scheme has been badly hit across several states with no central funding given at all between 2017 to 2020.
Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand are among the states and are learnt to have repeatedly taken up the issue with the social justice and empowerment ministry.