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Karnataka govt eyes SC scholarship money for hostel upkeep

The government’s argument is that good hostels are necessary for students from rural areas to continue higher education
Last Updated : 13 February 2022, 22:37 IST

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Karnataka is trying to convince the Centre that the post-matric scholarship (PMS) money that currently goes directly into the bank accounts of Scheduled Caste students should be paid to the state government instead to maintain hostels.

At least three lakh students enrolled in college get PMS in Karnataka every year. The scholarship amount comes up to Rs 400 crore annually. Many students who receive the scholarship stay in the 600-odd SC hostels run by the social welfare department, prompting the government to eye the scholarship money.

“The PMS guidelines of 2021-22 prescribe that the scholarship be given directly to the students. In that case the maintenance of hostels is very difficult,” the social welfare department told Union Minister of State for Social Justice A Narayanaswamy in a note during a review meeting this week, which DH has accessed.

“Universities and other government institutions are also maintaining the attached hostels in which SC students are also admitted. The mess charges may be in the order of Rs 3,000 and above per month. Additional amount is given by the state government out of Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP) funds to SC students. The institutions/universities are insisting to give the scholarship amount to the institutions to maintain the mess and it will help the SC students of attached hostels (sic),” the department said.

The government’s argument is that good hostels are necessary for students from rural areas to continue higher education.

The state government further asked the Centre to do away with Aadhaar-based biometric system in educational institutions to sanction scholarships. “In the institutions it is not practical only to maintain biometric system for SC students and sometimes it may lead to discrimination,” the department told Narayanaswamy.

In 2019-20, Karnataka gave PMS worth Rs 460 crore to 3.43 lakh students. In 2020-21, the scholarship amount was Rs 482 crore for 2.96 lakh students. The Centre pitched in Rs 252 crore and the state’s share was Rs 230 crore.

Former social welfare minister Priyank Kharge, who spearheaded a plan to revamp the hostel system when he was in office, is not fully convinced with the state government’s argument to get the scholarship money.

“Students who live in hostels are those who come from far-off places and aren’t economically strong. So, the idea of PMS is to ensure they are independent,” Kharge said. “Instead of asking for the scholarship money, the government should plug loopholes that run into hundreds of crores,” he added.

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Published 13 February 2022, 17:26 IST

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