The Scholarship story

A year after the 2010 summer unrest, New Delhi announced a Special Scholarship Scheme to encourage students from J&K to pursue higher education. Two years later, not only has the payment due to colleges been stopped, but it has also led to the emergence of new power structures which are exploiting the needy students, Suhail A Shah reports.


Located in a cluster of residential houses and offices belonging to several separatist groups in the upscale Rajbagh locality of Srinagar city, the office of Jammu and Kashmir Peace Foundation (JKPF) is a busy place these days. While some people throng the office to seek admission for their wards under the much-hyped Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme, others with their wards already admitted at different colleges across India have come to seek answers about the fate of their children.

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), JKPF is one of the consultancies that have been facilitating admissions in different courses for the students from various parts of Kashmir under a Special Scholarship Scheme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for the students of Jammu & Kashmir in 2011 in a bid to encourage them to pursue higher studies outside their state.

Under the scheme, 5000 fresh scholarships are to be granted for five consecutive years, of which 4500 will be for general courses, 250 for Engineering and 250 for Medical courses, “Tuition fees, Hostel Fees, cost of books and all other incidental charges will be covered under the Scholarship,” the guidelines of the Scheme released by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) read.

After a poor response in the first year of its inception, the Scheme attracted a fair number of students in next year. In 2012, a group of 450 students was flagged off from the Government Women’s College, Srinagar by the then Minister for Higher Education, Abdul Gani Malik. There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of aspiring students to avail the Scholarship, “So far, more than 5000 students have already been enrolled in different colleges across India,” Chairman of JKPF, Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, told Kashmir Life.

However, just one year down the line, Kashmiri students admitted at different colleges across India find themselves at the mercy of the college authorities after the MHRD failed to release the money due to the colleges. The total cost of the scheme was estimated at Rs 1200 crore, which was to be released in yearly instalments, starting with Rs 88 crore in the financial year 2011. The MHRD, however, is yet to release even the first instalment.

Worried that he might be thrown out of the college, Adil has been making frantic calls back home to his parents after he was informed by his college authorities in Rajasthan to either pay Rs 1.5 lakh as his college fee or leave the college. A student of engineering, Adil was among the 5000 students who got admitted in different colleges across India under the scheme.


“We don’t know where to go and which door to knock,” said one of the parents present at the NGO’s office in Rajbagh, “These people are the only point of contact we have.”

The consultancies however maintain that the fault lies with the MHRD, “They have failed to release the funds and are making the kids suffer,” said M M Shuja, General Secretary of the People’s Forum, another organisation that facilitates the admissions.

He said that the MHRD had been tipped off about some irregularities in the Scheme following which they stopped the release of funds, “The MHRD, after the necessary investigations, had assured the release of payment by March 31 this year. However it has not been done so far,” Shuja said.

The tussle between the MHRD and the social forums who have been implementing the Scheme on ground is not only making the students suffer but at the same time raises doubts about the authenticity of these forums in the minds of the people.

The MHRD has been maintaining that they have not authorised any person to facilitate the admissions so far and the only organisation that has been involved in the implementation of the Scheme is All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) through e-governance.


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