A scheme to support backward class students studying at the premier IITs, IIMs and the IISc with a one-time incentive of Rs 2 lakh, has received a tepid response, forcing the government to tweak the plan.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced the one-time incentive in his 2017-18 budget, in line with several other pro-Ahinda (minorities, backward classes and dalits) schemes. Every student belonging to categories 1, 2A, 3A and 3B under backward classes was to receive Rs 2 lakh for having secured admissions at IITs, IIMs and the IISc.
"Only 129 students have applied for the incentive and only about half of them have received it," Backward Classes Welfare Secretary Mohammad Mohsin said. "This is a poor response despite us having taken steps to spread the word about the new scheme."
Authorities have realised that low awareness was a minor reason for the lukewarm response. The culprit was the fact that the scheme was confined to only IITs, IIMs and the IISc. Apart from the IISc in Bengaluru, there are 23 IITs and 20 IIMs in India. A bulk of the allocation for the one-time incentive was earmarked for students studying at the IITs (45%), followed by IIMs (35%) and the IISc (20%).
"Students had to choose only from the IITs, IIMs and the IISc. We have now included several other institutes of national importance so that more students can avail of the benefit," Mohsin said.
The one-time benefit will now be extended to backward classes students studying at Indian Institutes of Information Technology, National Institutes of Technology, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, National Law Schools, Indian Institute of Petroleum, Indian School of Mines, Indian Statistical Institute, The Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research and The School of Planning and Architecture.
"We believe the grant will be sufficient for students to buy laptops and other equipment to help them study," Backward Classes Welfare Commissioner N V Prasad said.
On the other hand, 100 backward class and 200 minority students have been given scholarships to study overseas this academic year. Students opting to study for one year get Rs 10 lakh, and those studying courses beyond 18 months get Rs 20 lakh. "We have stopped giving scholarships to students who join foreign institutes that do not enjoy a good reputation," Mohsin said.