12 January 2023: India's government has decided to discontinue a scholarship scheme that supports minority students, known as the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF), which has provided an educational lifeline primarily for Muslim university scholars.
The decision has caused concern among the Muslim community, with many students saying their careers are being put in jeopardy.
A scholar pursuing a PhD in a STEM field at a government university in northern state of Uttar Pradesh told the media about the stresses of studying without financial support.
Sukhadeo Thorat, former chairman of University Grants Commission, which is a statutory body that oversees and funds universities in India, said that "there are certain social groups that lag behind so there is a need for group-specific policies.
Many cannot afford to do research without financial assistance. The scheme was introduced in 2009 following the recommendation of Sachar Committee, which was set up by the former ruling United Progressive Alliance government to study the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India.
According to data provided by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Muslim students made up more than 70% of the awardees in 2018-2019.
The discontinuation of the scheme has caused a stir among the Muslim community, with many questioning the reason provided by the government for the discontinuation of the scholarship scheme.
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Source: Scroll India | DW News | Taiwan News