Shortly after limiting the scope of pre-matric scholarship for minority students in November, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has decided to end the Maulana Azad Fellowship — dedicated to pursuing higher education — to minority students, from 2022-23. Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani announced this in Lok Sabha on Thursday in response to a question by Congress member T.N. Prathapan.
“Since the MANF scheme overlaps with various other fellowship schemes for higher education being implemented by the government and minority students are already covered under such schemes, hence, the government has decided to discontinue the MANF scheme from 2022-23,’’ Irani told the Lok Sabha.
In her reply, Irani added that as per the data provided by the UGC, 6,722 candidates were selected under the scheme between 2014-15 and 2021-22 with a cumulative disbursal of Rs 738.85 crore.
Prathapan raised the issue in the Lok Sabha again on Friday, calling the move anti-minority and saying that it will deprive thousands of research aspirants from carrying out their work.
The Maulana Azad Fellowship scheme is a five-year fellowship provided by the Centre in the form of financial assistance to six notified minority communities – Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Parsi and Sikh — to pursue M Phils and PhDs. The scheme covers all universities and institutions recognised by the University Grants Commission. It is implemented by the Minority Affairs ministry through the UGC.
The scope of the fellowship is to provide assistance to minority students pursuing regular and full-time research within India, and includes research projects by assistant professors.
On the other hand, the government’s pre-matric scholarship to students of minority communities will no longer apply to students from Class I to Class VIII, and only be continued for students from Class IX and Class X starting from 2022-23. The scholarship is run by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs.