Telangana government launches new schemes for minorities

By: Syed Amin Jafri

Telangana state is poised to witness grandiose celebrations of the first anniversary of its formation on 2nd June. The government has planned to deck up the city of Hyderabad—the state capital of the new state—on the occasion. The minorities welfare department has been tasked to coordinate with GHMC and other departments to ensure that the Old City celebrates the occasion in a befitting manner, in keeping with Hyderabad’s tehzeeb. The idea apparently is to tell the minorities, who predominate in the Old City, that the TRS government cares for them and seeks to keep alive their traditions.

This is, in a way, part of the grand strategy of the ruling party (TRS) to woo the minorities and keep their confidence. The other elements of this strategy has been the steep hike in the budgetary allocations for minorities welfare to Rs 1,034 crore and Rs 1,105 crore in 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial year respectively and launch of several new initiatives/revamped schemes under the aegis of Telangana state government.

Last week, the government announced the guidelines of Overseas Study scheme for minority students for pursuing higher studies in post-graduate courses in foreign universities from the year 2015-16.

This scheme for minority students has been patterned on the lines of Ambedkar Overseas Vidya Nidhi (AOVN) which provides for financial assistance to SC and ST students for pursuing higher studies in foreign universities. As per GO Ms No. 24 issued by MWD on 19th May 2015, financial assistance will be sanctioned to 500 minority graduates every year to pursue PG/doctoral studies abroad.

The maximum age prescribed for the applicants is 30 years for both PG/ doctoral courses. The income limit of the family has been fixed at Rs two lakh per annum. Sixty per cent marks or equivalent grade is required at degree or PG level. The applicants should have valid scores in TOEFL/ IELTS and GRE/ GMAT. The countries covered under the scheme are USA, UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore. One-third of the annual quota has been earmarked for women candidates. The awardees will be entitled to financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh, plus an education loan of Rs 5 lakh from any nationalised bank at prevailing rates of interest. However, the scheme for minority students differs significantly in several aspects from Ambedkar Overseas Vidya Nidhi. The maximum age-limit for SC/ ST students is 35 years. The income ceiling is Rs two lakh per annum for SCs and Rs 2.5 lakh for STs. The SC/ ST awardees are also provided passage grant (one-way lower fare ticket by economy class through the shortest route) and visas fees.

There is an imperative need to bring the eligibility and other conditions for minority students on par with SCs and STs so that the overseas study scheme really helps the deserving students.

The Telangana government’s other initiatives include revamping the marriage scheme and renaming it as “Shaadi Mubarak” with enhanced assistance of Rs 51,000 per couple; introduction of uniform income ceiling (Rs 1.5 lakh per family in rural areas and Rs two lakh in urban areas) for availing all welfare schemes such as bank-linked subsidy for income generation schemes, Shaadi Mubarak, skill development training, reimbursement of tuition fees and pre- and post-matric scholarship schemes; and relaxation of age-limit to 21 to 55 years for self-employment schemes.

The government has sanctioned 10 new residential schools and 10 post-matric hostels for minorities in the 10 districts of Telangana from the 2015-16 academic year. Each residential school will have 500 students and each hostel will have 100 inmates. Other schemes awaiting formal launch include admissions of minority students in best available schools and coaching to minority students in Telangana Study Circles.

The state pre-matric scholarship scheme, which was scrapped a few years ago, has been revived and revamped with higher quantum of assistance of Rs 1,000 per annum upto Class V and Rs 5,000 upto Class X for minority students.

The government has allocated Rs 10 crore for construction of Christian Bhavan on a two-acre site in Greater Hyderabad, besides sanctioning assistance of Rs 9.6 crore for construction of an auditorium at the 130-year-old Jamia Nizamia, world-renowned Islamic University, in Hyderabad. In pursuit of its poll promise to raise Muslim reservations to 12 per cent, the TRS regime has also constituted a Commission of Inquiry headed by retired bureaucrat G Sudhir to study the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in Telangana State.

Source: Times of India


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