New Delhi: Students belonging to minority communities can no longer avail of interest subsidies on education loans to study abroad. The Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA) has discontinued the Padho Pardesh scheme which enables this, reported The Hindu BusinessLine.
Last month, the Indian Banks’ Association notified banks about the discontinuation of the scheme from 2022-23. However, no reason has been specified for the change, as per the news report.
Under the Padho Pardesh Interest Subsidy Scheme, students who belong to minority communities – including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis – and want to pursue higher studies such as a master’s degree, MPhil and PhD abroad, are eligible to obtain interest subsidies on their entire loan amounts for a specified time period (course period, plus one year or six months after getting job, whichever is earlier).
There is also an income limit: as per the scheme, only candidates (both employed and unemployed) with a total income of less than Rs 6 lakh annually can avail of the interest subsidy. Under the scheme, 35% of seats are also earmarked for females. The Scheme was part of the then Prime Minister’s fifteen-point programme for the welfare of minorities in 2006.
No subsidies anymore
MOMA has, however, discontinued the scheme – which was being implemented through Canara Bank, the designated nodal bank – from 2022-23, as per the BusinessLine report. The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) notified all banks last month. As per the communication, existing beneficiaries as on March 31, 2022, will continue to receive the interest subsidy during the moratorium period of the loan, subject to compliance with the extant guidelines, according to the news report. However, banks have not given a reason as to why the scheme has been discontinued, the BusinessLine reported.
The move comes on the heels of MOMA discontinuing the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, which was for students from minority communities, saying it overlaps with other schemes under which minority students are also covered.