Central OBC scholarships: A Sorry Tale

A few weeks ago, we had looked at the sectarian bias that exists in Central Government scholarships with respect to SC/STs and Minorities.

A little more digging reveals an even abysmal state when it comes to scholarships for OBCs.

On the 15th of December 2015, in the Lok Sabha, an Unstarred question was asked to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment vide question number 2567. The question was as follows.

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(a) whether the Government provides pre-matric scholarship to OBC students and if so, the details thereof;

(b) the amount that is being given for each student;

(c) whether the said amount is highly inadequate and if so, the details thereof;

(d) whether the Government is planning to increase this amount; and

(e) if so, the details thereof, and if not, the reasons therefor?

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We will ignore the answers to questions c, d and e for now and concentrate on the replies given to a and b. I again reproduce the answer given verbatim

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(a): Yes. The details of the scheme are annexed.

(b): The rate of scholarships and ad-hoc grant under the scheme is as under:

I. Hostellers:

The students as hostellers are covered from class III to X. The rates of scholarships are as under:-

Class III to VIII Rs. 200/- per month for 10 months

Class IX to X Rs. 250/- per month for 10 months

II. Day Scholars

The students as day scholars are covered from Class I to Class X. The rates of scholarships are as under:-

Class I to V Rs. 25/- per month for 10 months

Class VI to VIII Rs. 40/- per month for 10 months

Class IX to X Rs. 50/- per month for 10 months

III. Ad-Hoc Grant An ad-hoc grant of Rs. 500/- per student per annum to all students i.e. hostellers as well as day scholars are also given.

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Look at the amounts given for ‘Day Scholars’ – Rs 25/40/50 per month for 10 months in a year. This is in the year 2015-16!! What can a student do with Rs 25 per month is anyone’s guess.

I also looked at the budgetary allocations for OBC Post and Pre Matric scholarships in the Budget of 2017-18. The allocation has remained static for 2 years, including this year. The total is (885 + 142) crores since 2016-17, and is marginally higher than (823 + 121) crores in the year 2015-16.

The fact that there is no immediate plan to increase these amounts is also confirmed by the answer to sub-question (d) asked above. The answer is as below

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“For the increase in scholarship rates, which involves huge financial implications, the Department of Expenditure has not committed or assured any additional resources.”

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In another Unstarred question vide number 707 asked/answered on 1st March 2016, information on the total number of OBC students who were granted various scholarships, and the total amount disbursed was sought. The information given was as follows

  • Post matric scholarships:
    • Total number of scholarships – 60.88 lakhs
    • Total scholarship amount – 76802.8 lakhs
  • Pre matric scholarships:
    • Total number of scholarships – 203.52 lakhs
    • Total scholarship amount – 9581.77 lakhs
  • The total number of OBC students receiving scholarships in 2015-16 are 264.4 lakhs
  • The total scholarship amount comes up to 86384.57 lakhs

The per-OBC-student scholarship amount therefore is Rs 327/- !!!!!!!

(Edit: Corrected the numbers from the original post and added separate comparisons for pre and post matric)

Just for comparison, I searched around for similar data related to the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

As a matter of fact, the same data for minorities was provided in response to Unstarred question number 531 on the 20th of July 2016 in the Lok Sabha.

*The comparison year remains the same – i.e. – 2015-16*

  • The total number of minority students receiving scholarships in 2015-16 are 3812654
  • The total scholarship amount is 742.58 crores

The per-minority-student scholarship amount therefore is Rs 1948/-

Pre-matric comparison:

OBC:

Total number of students: 203.52 lakhs

Total scholarship amount: 9581.77 lakhs

Scholarship amount per pre-matric OBC student: Rs 47/-

Minority:

Total number of students: 3459093

Total scholarship amount: 529.02 crores

Scholarship amount per pre-matric minority student: 1529/-

Post-matric comparison:

OBC:

Total number of students: 60.88 lakhs

Total scholarship amount: 76802.8 lakhs

Scholarship amount per post-matric OBC student: 1261/-

Minority:

Total number of students: 353561

Total scholarship amount: 213.56 crores

Scholarship amount per post-matric minority student: 6040/-

You should remember that the criteria for an individual student to obtain scholarships is very similar – such as being below the poverty line, not getting any other scholarship or assistance and so on. The only difference between the 2 segments is their religion.

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TSR Subramanian Report on NEP & RTE

October-2015:

The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) constitutes a committee, known as the TSR Subramanian Committee, for ‘Evolution of the New Education Policy’. The committee is led by former Cabinet Secretary Sri TSR Subramanian.

April-2016:

The TSR Subramanian Committee submits its report to the MHRD. In the words of the ministry itself…

“The Committee has examined the large body of outcome documents, recommendations and suggestions received from the various consultations. The Committee also had several meetings with various stakeholders and held regional consultations as well as undertaken field visits to educational institutions”

May-27-2016:

The MHRD issues a press release confirming the submission of the report. The press release also makes some generic statements about the future of the report, and in fact the NEP itself.

June-04-2016:

The chairperson of the Committee, Sri Subramanian, questions why the report is not being made public. He threatens to go public with the report if it is not made public.

He gives some information on the contents of the report stating that it contains up to 90 suggestions. One of the important recommendations, he discloses, is that the committee has recommended reintroduction of detention of students beyond Class V

July-06-2016:

The Modi Government undertakes a cabinet reshuffle. Some portfolios amongst Cabinet ministers are re-arranged and a lot of changes take place at the minister-of-state level.

But at the Cabinet level, there is only one change that stands out – Smriti Irani is removed as Cabinet Minister in charge of MHRD. Prakash Javadekar is elevated to Cabinet rank and made in charge of MHRD.

August-2016:

TSR Subramanian gives another press interview and states that the Government has made public only some extracts of the report, and not the entire 200+ pages original report.

August-2016:

MHRD Prakash Javadekar assures everyone, especially the minority community, that no constitutional changes will be made in relation to freedom given to minority community with regard to Education.

What’s the point?

I draw your attention to page 89 of the report submitted by the TSR Subramanian Committee, where the following recommendation has been made:

6.6.13 The issue of extension of Clause 12 (1) (c) of RTE Act to minority institutions needs a review. The Committee feels that the larger national obligations to meet the rights of economic weaker sections should extend to all institutions including minority (religious and linguistic) institutions.

We may never know the real, and complete, reasons behind Smriti Irani’s transfer. And I am not trying to whip up a conspiracy theory here. But the above sequence of events DO lead to some interesting inferences and conclusions to be drawn!

The 2012 Amendment to RTE Act

This is a short post guided by a discussion that happened on Twitter on whether the UPA Government was pro-actively working towards keeping minority educational institutions out of the purview of the RTE Act.

In 2012, on April 12, the Supreme Court pronounced its judgement in the Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan v Union of India case and declared that “unaided minority educational institutions” are outside of the purview of the RTE Act.

This however meant that the RTE Act was applicable to aided minority institutions. The thinking in the political circles, based on the interpretation of the judgement was that the hierarchical order of Article 29/30 and the RTE Act was not clear (my assessment of the understanding).

Within 12 days, on 24 April 2012, the Rajya Sabha passed an amendment Act to RTE that was in the works since 2 years then. The original amendment Act and the report of the Statutory Committee did not have any amendment planned for Section 1 of the Act. However, immediately after that above referred judgement, the UPA Government added an amendment clause and inserted Section 1(4) into the Act. The clause says the following

[(4) Subject to the provisions of articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, the provisions of this Act shall apply to conferment of rights on children to free and compulsory education
(5) Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to Madras as, Vedic Pathsalas and educational institutions primarily imparting religious instruction.]

I am reproducing the entire speech of the then MHRD minister Kapil Sibal on the floor of the Rajya Sabha made on 24th April 2012 with respect to the above clause insertion. It leaves no one in doubt what the UPA Government wanted.

“Now, I come to the issue of minority institutions. The Supreme Court Judgement has come. It makes it very clear in view of provision of 29 and 30 of the constitution, unaided minority institutions will not be governed by the provisions of this Act. In terms of section 1(4), the provisions of this Act shall apply to conferment of rights on children to free and compulsory education. Subject to the provisions of Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution. So, this is subject to Articles 29 and 30. The Supreme court has declared the law under Articles 29 and 30 and clearly said that unaided private institutions are not governed by the provisions of this Act. That clarity is given by the Supreme Court. That law cannot be changed. That’s the final verdict of the Supreme Court. But, aided institutions are covered. Now, under this amendment, even in aided institutions, the school management committees will not be governing the minority institutions. They will only have an advisory function. Therefore, we have made a departure. Whereas under the Supreme Court judgment, aided institutions will be governed by school management institution by virtue of this amendment, we have said that aided institutions will not be covered. They will have only an advisory capacity. So, in a sense, we have moved two steps further to protect the interests of the minority institutions. So, Adeebji, I would request you that please be assured that we are extremely sensitive to the concerns of the minority community. If you walk two steps, we will walk ten steps in order to make sure that their interests are fully protected. The UPA government, the UPA Chairperson and our Prime Minister are always extremely concerned about this”

Edit: (28th March 2017 – Adding Kapil Sibal’s comments in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on this amendment bill)

“The other set of objections was raised by distinguished members of the minority community.  They had said that the Act did not have any article and any clause which indicated that this Act was subject to the rights of the minority communities under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution.  Though, I believe that this is implicit because the Constitution of India and the provisions therein overwrite any legislation as also it is a constitutional provision.   So, any legislation passed by Parliament is subject to Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution.  It is given.  Yet, the Committee thought that it should be prescribed for and incorporated in the Act.  This suggestion was also accepted by us.  Therefore, we moved an amendment Bill.  It was referred to the Standing Committee on 16th April, 2010.

….

  Sir, this is one set of amendments that I seek the approval of the distinguished Members of this august House from. The other, of course, is the demand of the minority community who suggested that we should incorporate in this amendment Bill specific references to articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution. We have, therefore, added in Section 1(a), clause 4 and 5 and I will read those. Clause 4 says:

‘Subject to the provisions of articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, the provisions of this Act shall apply to conferment of rights on children to free and compulsory education.’

Clause 5 says:

‘Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to Madrasas, Vedic Pathshalas educational institutions primarily imparting religious instructions.’

This also came about because many of the Madrasas do not impart religious instructions and there was also a demand from the Vedic Pathshalas as well as Madrasas that we should keep both Madrasas and Vedic Pathshalas out of the ambit of this Act and then, of course, incorporate articles 29 and 30 specifically in the amendment provisions. This is what we have done.

In the context of that we have made another amendment in Section 21. As you know that under the original Act School Management Committees were to be set up and the School Management Committees were to decide on the developmental plans of the school. The decision making was in the School Management Committees. माइनोरटीज़ की तरफ से यह भी मांग आई कि जो माइनोरटीज इंस्टीटय़शंस हैं, आर्टिकल 29 और 30 के अंतर्गत उन्हें अख्तियार नहीं होना चाहिए कि वे निर्णय लें, चाहे वह डवलपमेंट प्लान में निर्णय हो या कोई और हो, इसलिए माइनोरटीज इंस्टीटय़ूशंस को इसके बाहर रखना चाहिए। हमने समझा कि यह मांग सही है और वह हमने मान ली। अब तो सुप्रीम कोर्ट का भी फैसला आ गया है।  On the 12th of April, 2012 the Supreme Court also rendered a decision in which the Supreme Court said that no provisions of this Act will apply to unaided minority educational institutions. So, to that extent, the Supreme Court clarified and severed those provisions of the Act which apply to unaided minority institutions. But the Supreme Court also said that as far as aided institutions are concerned, it will have full application. In that context, I might just mention to the distinguished Members of this House that I had already moved an amendment in Section 21 where I have said, proviso to sub-Section (ii), provided that the School Management Committee constituted under sub-Section 1(a) a school established and administered by minority whether based on religion or language and all other aided schools as defined in sub-Section (2) shall perform advisory function only. 

So, what we have said is that, as far as minority institutions which are aided or even otherwise aided institutions are concerned, the School Management Committee shall only perform advisory functions.”

Summing up UPA’s minority appeasement in Kapil Sibal’s own words – “If you walk two steps, we will walk ten steps

The Amendment to Article 30(1) that never made it

During the Constituent Assembly debates which led to the construction of our Constitution as it stands today, a lot of discussion took place on the clauses related to Article 29. However discussions on Article 30 were very limited. However, one interesting debate that did come up is very much relevant to the sectarian mess that running educational institutions has become today.

Background:

Article 23 of the Draft Constitution eventually became Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution.

The debates on the draft Article 23 happened on the 7th and 8th of December 1948.

What is today Article 30(1) was Article 23(3) in the draft constitution.

For quick reference, here is Article 30(1)

30. Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice

 

The Amendment that never made it:

 

On the 8th of December, 1948, Professor K T Shah, an eminent scholar from Bihar, and an important member of the Constituent Assembly, moved an amendment which sought to add an additional sub-clause to the above clause (1).

 

The sub-clause requested was as below

 

“Provided that no part of the expenditure in connection with such institutions shall fall upon or be defrayed from the public purse; and provided further that no such institution, nor the education and training given therein shall be recognised, unless it complies with the courses of instruction, standards of attainment, methods of education and training, equipment and other conditions laid down in the national system of education.”

 

This clause stated that even though minorities would have every opportunity to start and administer educational institutions, they would be bound by an overall “national system of education”!

 

Let’s look at the short presentation made by Professor K T Shah for this amendment.

 

Substantially speaking, it seems to be the same amendment or similar to the one I moved yesterday or the day before, viz., amendment No. 664. Only, there it was in a more positive form and here it is in a negative form, making it more clear that whatever be the foundation or endowment,in the first instance, of any such national institutions, no part of the expenditure should fall upon the public purse–neither partly nor wholly.–This I consider is necessary to provide specifically in view of the possibility of any party taking advantage of the positive provision made above. I should not like to waste the time of the House beyond just pointing out that this in reality is not identical, but that in substance it is the same. I am afraid I have not much hope of making the House change its viewpoint within 48 hours, and therefore I do not wish to take any more time of the House by speaking on it.

 

As we can see, Professor Shah saw the dangers in giving unrestricted autonomy to educational institutions, both in the context of imparting religious education, as well as in allowing minorities to run such institutions.

 

It also becomes clear from his conclusion that the rest of the members of the House did not show any enthusiasm towards such a clause. Hence it was eventually not even moved, and therefore did not have to stand the test of a vote.

 

If only this clause was more actively debated, and subsequently adopted, a monster like RTE could never have taken birth.

 

And #core1 would well be alive today!

 

References:

 

  1. Constituent Assembly Debate of 8th December 1948
  2. India’s Constitution, Origins and Evolution, Volume 3 by Samaraditya Pal

Pre-matric scholarships in Karnataka

Since it is the season for analyzing sectarian Government schemes, here goes one more… 🙂

The aim of this post is to provide a comparison of the scholarship schemes implemented by the Government of Karnataka for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes and Minority students, studying in pre-matic classes.

The pre-matric scholarship scheme for SC/ST students is managed by the Department of Social Welfare

The pre-matric scholarship scheme for Minority students is managed by the Department of Minorities.

The comparison year is 2015-16

As per the 2011 Census, the population of Karnataka is 6.11 crore

The population of SCs and STs is close to 24% (17% SC, 7% ST)

The population of minorities (all combined) is close to 16% (Muslims 12.9%, Christians 1.7%, plus others)

Total number of scholarships given for SC students are 9,17,165

Total number of scholarships given for ST students are 3,20,994

Hence, the sum total of scholarships for SC/ST students are 12,38,159

Total number of scholarships given for minorities are 10,27,406

The maximum scholarship amount provided for SC/ST students is Rs 1000

The maximum scholarship amount provided for minorities is Rs 5000

Note 1: The minorities scholarships are partly funded by the Government of India. That considered, it still is counted here since the eventual beneficiaries all belong to the state of Karnataka.

Note 2: Depending upon the individual case, varying amounts have been sanctioned. Hence the reference to maximum amounts above

Which means…

The corpus for SC/ST pre-matric scholarship is 123.82 crores

The corpus for minorities pre-matric scholarship is 513.7 crores

24% <–> 123 crores

16% <–> 513 crores

#Core2 alarm bells should be ringing real loud by now!

References:

  1. Department of social welfare – GoK
  2. Directorate of minorities – GoK

Student enrolments in the RTE era

The RTE Act, as well all know, was brought into effect in the year 2009. The Act proclaims to guarantee education for every child, aged between 6 and 14, in the country.

The Act reserves 25% of seats in all schools for SC/ST, EBC and DG groups, except in private schools owned by non-Hindus.

There have been number of quality articles analysing this Act from multiple perspectives on the Internet.

In this post, let us try to look at some statistics that are central to the goals of the RTE Act.

  1. Total student enrolment numbers
    1. The primary school segment is the most important one with respect to enrolment. The benefit of the 25% reservation should be most visible here.
  2. Percentage of SC and ST student enrolments
    1. This number is an indication of what percentage of seats in schools are the target segments actually getting.

Source for the below numbers are from DISE. The numbers for this source should be valid for us because the Ministry of Human Resources Department, Government of India itself uses this as a credible source.

1) First the student enrolment numbers from the pre-RTE era till 2015-16

Year Enrolment (Class 1 to 5) Comments
2007-08 13,41,32,183  
2008-09 13,43,77,324  
2009-10 13,34,05,581 RTE Act passed
2010-11 13,52,07,057  
2011-12 13,70,99,984 SC judgement exempting Unaided Minority schools from RTE
2012-13 13,47,84,272  
2013-14 13,24,28,440 SC judgement exempting Aided Minority schools from RTE
2014-15 13,05,01,135  
2015-16 12,91,22,784

Key observations:

  • Prior to RTE, no clear pattern with respect to enrolment numbers
  • Post RTE, there is a visible increase in enrolment numbers in 2010-11 and 2011-12
  • In 2012, in the Society for Un-aided Private Schools of Rajasthan v. Union of India judgement, the Supreme Court of India exempted Private Unaided Minority Schools from RTE. After this, the total enrolment numbers started declining
  • In 2014, in the Pramati Educational & Cultural … vs Union Of India judgement, the Supreme Court of India exempted even the Private Aided Minority Schools from RTE. The decline of the student enrolments continues
  • Note that the decline is happening in spite of obvious increases in total population in the country, a natural side-effect of which should have been that the numbers should have shown an upward trend

2) SC students: Enrolment percentages

Year %age SC students enrolment from classes 1 to 7 Comments
2007-08 19.83  
2008-09 19.72  
2009-10 19.81  
2010-11 19.06  
2011-12 19.80  
2012-13 20.24  
2013-14 19.72  
2014-15 19.80 SC enrollments going down
2015-16 19.94

Key observations:

  • Even after introduction of RTE, no significant increase in enrolment percentages of SC students
  • After Pramati judgement exempting minority schools, the enrolment percentage of SC students seems to be decreasing

3) ST students: Enrolment percentages

Year %age ST students enrolment from classes 1 to 7 Comments
2007-08 10.95  
2008-09 11.04  
2009-10 10.93  
2010-11 10.70  
2011-12 10.92  
2012-13 10.85  
2013-14 10.63  
2014-15 10.47 ST enrollments going down
2015-16 10.64

Key observations:

  • No visible change in ST student enrolments due to introduction of RTE
  • However, post Pramati judgement, the percentages are going down

Overall Observations:

  • The introduction of RTE did not show any marked improvements in student enrolments
  • However, after the exemption of the non-Hindu schools from RTE, the total student enrolments seem to be *actually declining*
  • The introduction of RTE has not shown any marked increase in SC/ST student enrolment percentages
  • However, post exclusion of non-Hindu schools, the enrolment percentages are actually showing a downward trend

UP Govt Support: Kailash Manasarovar vs Haj

There is an article in news18 website today wondering who, in the new BJP Government in UP, will head the Haj department. The article expresses worry about the lack of a Muslim MLA from BJP who could head this department.

This question, and the subsequent discussion that emerged on Social Media, encouraged me to look at the approach of the UP Government towards pilgrimages. For comparison purposes, I picked up the Haj pilgrimage performed by Muslims and the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra performed by Hindus.

The following facts and figures give a decent picture about the attitude of the Uttar Pradesh Government (2012-2017) towards the 2 pilgrimages

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra:

  • Managed by the “dharmaarth” department of UP government
  • Provides a subsidy of Rs 50,000 per pilgrim out of the total cost of Rs 1.44 lakhs that is incurred
  • As per this report, the total number of pilgrims who travel to Kailash Manasarovar from UP are around 35 at the max. This was in 2012. Let us assume this number has increased to around 100 in 2016-17 since the total number of yatris in 2014 was around 1250.
  • The total expenditure on the yatra is therefore around 50 lakhs at the maximum

Haj pilgrimage:

  • Managed by the Minority affairs ministry of the UP Government
  • A separate Haj department operates under the MoMA, UP Government
  • In 2016 a total of 24000 people from UP performed Haj.
  • The ministry of civil aviation, Government of India, provides a travel subsidy of an average of (roughly) 40,000 per person for every Haj pilgrim from UP. This comes up to around 96 crores.
  • The UP Government has budgeted an amount of 2.05 crores for the Haj department in the year 2016-17
  • In addition, the following grants have been given as part of the benefits granted for Haj travellers.
    • Haj guest house at Ghaziabad built in 2013-14 at a cost of 27 crores
    • Haj guest house at Varanasi at the cost of 10 crores

It is clear that the grant of subsidies for pilgrimages is totally sectarian. This is the real issue that must be tackled by the new BJP Government at UP. #core demands that there be uniformity in allocation and usage of resources for such purposes.

There are a number of other “Yatras” that religious Hindus undertake, such as the Char Dham Yatra, Tirupati Yatra, Shirdi Yatra and so on. #core means a proportional amount of resources be spent by the State for Hindus to undetake such Yatras as well.