Education

Delhi Govt Officials Fail to Provide Scholarships to 5 Lakh SC/ST, Minority Students

Over 5 lakh scholarships remained unpaid for over a year and yet no one raise a hue and cry. Now, Kejriwal has raised the issue and the chief secretary’s report is awaited.

Representational image. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s letter to Chief Secretary M.M. Kutty to immediately restart the process of disbursal of over five lakh scholarships to SC, ST and minority students, has exposed the lack of seriousness of those concerned towards the children from marginalised and deprived sections. It has also raised questions about why none of the 272 councillors, 70 MLAs and seven MPs from Delhi came to know of or raised this important issue.

Chief secretary’s report awaited

While the politicians are trying to make political capital out of the suffering of the students, a report from the chief secretary was awaited on the subject.

Kejriwal had written to Kutty on June 30 about the non-disbursal of scholarships to students of the Delhi government, municipal and New Delhi Municipal Council schools, after a report on the issue by the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDC), summoned by him, revealed that lakhs of them had not received their scholarships for over 16 months.

Claiming that the files had never been given to any Delhi government minister between 2015 and 2017, and that the “the elected government was kept in the dark”, Kejriwal had noted that the DDC report had alleged that “more than five lakh scholarships are yet to be disbursed in Delhi, due to complete abdication of responsibilities, apathy, insensitivity and dereliction of duty by the senior most officials” of the Delhi government.

The chief minister insisted that it was during his public meetings recently that he came to know that SC/ST and minority students were not getting their scholarships, and he had subsequently asked the DDC to probe the matter. While Kejriwal demanded that the officials concerned submit to him a “personal explanation” by July 5 and directed that all pending scholarships be disbursed by July 15, Kutty was also called upon to submit a report by July 3 evening.

Over 5 lakh scholarships not paid, 12 schemes collapsed

The issue is huge as it impacts the lives of lakhs of students and their families. While according to DDC, which went through 34 files pertaining to 12 schemes that were implemented by Delhi government, of which seven were centrally sponsored and five were of the Delhi government, all the state-sponsored schemes had “collapsed” in 2015-16, and “thousands of students” had not received their scholarships as of March 2016. The central schemes also collapsed in 2016-17 and there was a pendency in the disbursal of “5.57 lakh scholarships” by March 2017.

How did the elected representatives miss this?

Yet, most of the elected representatives missed this grave discrepancy. Northwest Delhi MP and chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations Udit Raj told The Wire that somehow the issue never came to his knowledge. “I would have definitely raised it had it come to my knowledge,” said the BJP MP, who represents one of Delhi’s most populated constituencies.

While accusing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of not taking care of the SC/ST and minority communities which had voted it to power, Raj said while the minister concerned should resign, the officials responsible for such dereliction should also be brought to book.

“The students who are dependent on scholarships are so poor and backward that they cannot survive without them for even a few days. I fear due to this major fiasco a large number of students would have got pushed out of the education system. We need immediate remedial measures,” he said, hoping that the media coverage would make all the officials sit up and act.

Trouble started due to Aadhaar linkage

AAP spokesperson and advisor to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Atishi Marlena, who has been closely associated with the education revamp in Delhi, told The Wire that “it is not that complaints about non-disbursal of scholarships were never received”.

“We had been receiving these complaints from various quarters but as the Central Government was carrying out a project for linkage of the scholarships, being disbursed through direct benefit transfer via bank accounts, with the Aadhaar, we always felt that the troubles were related to this technology change. It was only after the DDC enquiry report came out that we realised the gravity of the situation,” explained Marlena.

She said it has now become clear that the scholarships had got discontinued a long time back. “We have asked for a report and immediate restoration of these scholarships. The report from the chief secretary is awaited and would throw more light on the issue.”