Former Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in protest against the exclusion of courses related to Indian heritage, culture, and history for the award of overseas scholarships for students from Scheduled Castes.
“The Social Justice Ministry’s (SJM) circular disallowing students from pursuing the studies on India-related topics is highly unacademic as it would kill their natural interest and talents,” Mr. Mungekar, also a former Rajya Sabha member, said in the letter to the Prime Minister.
The ministry had told Parliament last month that topics or courses concerning Indian Culture, Heritage, History, and Social Studies will not be considered for the award of scholarships from 2022-23 onwards.
The National Overseas Scholarships for students from Scheduled Castes (SC), notified, de-notified tribes, and agricultural labor communities, offer 125 slots every year for pursuing higher studies in top universities abroad.
“I legitimately feel that many students would not apply and that would defeat the purpose of the scheme,” Mr. Mungekar said. “I, therefore, sincerely request you to personally intervene in the matter and ensure that these most regressive conditions are removed forthwith,” he said.
Mr. Mungekar said he had handled all the scholarship schemes for these students, first as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mumbai and then as a member of the Planning Commission.
The students have always been free to choose the topics for their studies. I am fully aware that they mainly choose India-related topics; and also within them, those relating to poverty, socio-economic inequalities, discrimination, review of central and state governments schemes for their socio-economic upliftment, among others,He Said.
Mr. Mungekar noted that in recent years, there is a growing trend towards studying medicine, engineering, administration, management, and other natural sciences. He also requested the prime minister to increase the number of overseas scholarships to at least 200.
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