During the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections campaign, Prime Minister Modi very rightly brought up the issue of discrimination being practised by the SP Govt in UP – based on religion and caste.

He quipped – “Gaon me kabristan banta hai to shamshaan bhi banna chahiye. Ramzan me bijli aati hai to Diwali me bhi aani chahiye. Bhedbhav nhi hona chahiye (If land is given for cemetery in a village, it should be given for cremation ground also. If electricity is supplied during Ramazan, it should be supplied during Diwali also. There should not be discrimination.

The above statement indicated, for the first time, that perhaps the NDA government will address #core issues going forward. It may very well happen if BJP gets a majority in UP on the 11th of March 2017.

However, even as everyone on the ‘Right’ side of the political spectrum applauded the Prime Minister’s statement(s), it is interesting to see how the Union Government itself is faring on this very same front of ‘bhed-bhaav’ on religious and caste lines.

The situation, I am afraid, is not a pleasant one.

Let us restrict ourselves, for the purpose of this post, to just one sector — that of Education. Further, let’s focus on just 1 scheme in this post. The goal is to highlight discrepancies and not really to provide a ready-reckoner.

The Union Govt, under the Ministry of Minority affairs, provides a ‘Pre Matric Scholarship for Students Belonging to the Minority Communities

This scheme is exclusively targeted towards children belonging to the minority community.

There is no equivalent scheme of scholarship assistance that applies to the majority community *as a whole*. However, there is a scheme that provides a similar assistance to Scheduled Caste children.

This scheme is known as the “Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Pre Matric Scholarship for Scheduled Caste Students

For the purpose of this post, let’s assume a equivalence (intent-wise only) between these 2 schemes.

Below is an attempt to compare the two schemes on various parameters.

Sl No Parameter Minorities Scheduled Caste
1 Eligibility (class wise) 1st to 10th 9th and 10th
2 Eligibility (region wise) All of India Only Union Territories
3 Income limit 1L p.a 2L p.a
4 Type of students Both hostellers & day-scholars Both hostellers & day-scholars
5 Admission fees (day scholars) 500 per annum None
5 Tuition/Scholarship fees (day scholars) 4200 per annum 1500 per annum
6 Maintenance/miscellaneous (day scholars) 1200 per annum 750 per annum
7 Admission fees (hostellers) 500 per annum None
8 Tuition/Scholarship fees (hostellers) 4200 per annum 3500 per annum
9 Maintenance/miscellaneous (hostellers) 7200 per annum 1000 per annum

Key observations are as follows:

  • For minorities, pre-matric scholarship is available from 1st to 10th grades
  • For SCs, pre-matric scholarship is available for only the 9th and 10th grade
  • If you are a minority and attend pre-matric as a day-scholar, you will get Rs 5900/- every year
  • If you are an SC and attend pre-matric as a day-scholar, you will get Rs 2250/- every year
  • If you are a minority and attend pre-matric as a hosteller, you will get Rs 11900/- every year
  • If you are an SC and attend pre-matric as a hosteller, you will get Rs 4500/- every year

It is quite evident that minorities get *more than double*  (260%) the scholarship than what an SC student will get, for (almost the exact) same parameters.

There are schemes by the MHRD for Scheduled Tribe students as well which can be compared with the minority scheme, but I have not ventured into it in this post.

This is very much a “Khabristan vs Shamshaan” moment for the Union Government!

No doubt these schemes were started by the UPA government and the present NDA Government is only continuing them, but in the spirit of what PM Modi declared during the UP elections, a relook at such glaring discrimination in his own Government schemes would be much desired.

Let’s hope the cleanup starts from home!

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