Govt plans to give away Kindle, dongle to SC/ST college students

Govt plans to give away Kindle, dongle to SC/ST college students

An Amazon Kindle (e-reader), a 4G-enabled dongle, a scientific calculator and a pen drive - that's what every SC/ST student in state-run engineering colleges is slated to receive in an all-out move the government has planned to woo Dalits.

The 'laboratory toolkit' will be given to students whose family income limit is under Rs 5 lakh per annum under the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (SCSP-TSP) funds of the Social Welfare department.

The toolkit  was planned alongside free laptops for every SC/ST student. However, the laptop scheme is under scrutiny by a legislature committee over purported irregularities.

While the laptop scheme came under the Department of Collegiate Education, the toolkit scheme is under the Department of Technical Education.

A subject-expert committee constituted by the department to propose what each toolkit should contain has recommended the following for electronics and communication, civil, mechanical, computer science and textile technology branches: A Kindle e-reader, a 32-GB pen drive, a WiFi dongle and a scientific calculator. The list of items is more comprehensive for students of various polytechnic (diploma) courses: Drawing board, mini drafter, engineering drawing instrument, soldering kits, digital LCR metre, Allen key set, digital ultrasonic tape measuring instrument among others.

"The government has decided to allocate Rs 6,000-6,500 per toolkit per student," Technical Education director H U Talawar said. "So, we will have to finalise what each toolkit should comprise. It will be done soon." The department has asked government engineering and polytechnic colleges to furnish statistics on how many SC/ST students are on the rolls.

With the Rs 300-crore laptop scheme is under the scrutiny of a House committee headed by Congress MLC K C Kondaiah, authorities are going slow on the laboratory toolkit process.

"We don't want to hurry with the laboratory toolkit, given what happened with the laptop scheme. However, the process is underway," Talawar said.

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government has been doling out sops to woo Dalit votes ahead of the election, in line with its focus on Ahinda (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward class and Dalits).

Under the SCSP-TSP, the Higher Education department has received Rs 196 crore this year, of which it has spent only Rs 11.54 crore so far.

"That's mainly because the laptop scheme is stuck with the House committee," Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya said earlier this week.

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