New Delhi: The Union government has discontinued the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, which was for students from minority communities, saying it overlaps with other scholarships.
The Hindu has reported that the MANF was launched by the earlier United Progressive Alliance government at the Union in an effort to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee.
The committee was established in 2005 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the social, educational and economic situation of Muslims in the country.
The seven-member committee submitted its final report on November 17, 2006.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs formulated the scholarship. The University Grants Commission website says it is open to candidates who belong to one of the minority communities – Muslim, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist, Christian and Jain – and are pursuing higher studies.
MANF covered all institutions recognised by UGC.
In July, The Hindu has reported that MPhil and PhD research scholars had approached the minority affairs ministry and UGC over a nine-month delay in the disbursal of the fellowship.
In the same month, Irani said in the parliament that the number of beneficiaries under most schemes launched by the Union minority affairs has declined since 2019-20.
“The number of beneficiaries under the Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme also declined from 1,251 in 2019-20 to 1,075 in 2021-22. The funds released or sanctioned under this scheme dropped from Rs 100 crore to Rs 74 crore during the two-year period,” Irani had said.
Hindu reported that responding to a question of Congress MP T.N. Prathapan, Union minority affairs minister Smriti Irani told Lok Sabha that MANF was overlapping with other schemes under which minority students are also covered.
Irani said in parliament that 6,722 candidates were selected under it between 2014-15 and 2021-22 and fellowships of Rs 738.85 crore were distributed in that time.
In November, Irani’s ministry had announced that the government’s pre-matric scholarship to students of minority communities will no longer apply to students from Class I to Class VIII, and only be continued for students from Class IX and Class X starting from 2022-23. The government has said that this was done to bring the minority affairs ministry scholarship in line with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Tribal Affairs.