Vikas Tatad
IJDTSW Vol.5, Issue 1, No.4, pp. 64 to 71, July 2018

Revisiting the Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Schedule Caste and Tribes in Maharashtra

Published On: Saturday, August 4, 2018

Abstract

The Government of India’s Post-Matric Scholarship (GOI-PMS) has an extensive coverage when compared to all the schemes within the affirmative action framework. The GOI-PMS has not only enabled higher enrollment of backward community students into higher educational institutions, but also capacitated their potentialities as prospective workers in the job market. This has often had positive impact on their lives, gaining in the process self-respect, increased mobility and a sense of psychological right to claim their socio-economic and political space within the country, something denied for ages by the caste system. Data available reveals that the GOI-PMS has raised the ratio of participation of ‘lower caste’ communities from rural areas and among them, girls have benefited greatly as one observes their increased enrollment in higher education. In this paper, I will attempt to identify the systemic-structural problems faced by the ‘GOI’ students in receiving scholarship and critically assess the procedures laid in the disbursement of scholarship. I will also examine the existing gaps between the cost of pursuing different educational courses and the amount of scholarship given, plus try to understand the impact of such complex processes on the educational quality and status of students availing this scholarship.

Introduction:

Education plays a very instrumental role in enabling and developing the capabilities of human beings. It not only liberates the mind of human personality but also nurtures critical thinking of the context around them. Dr. Ambedkar in one of his arguments notes, “If you want to develop the society then you need to spread education.” He also compares education with the milk of tigress and adds that one who will drink it; won’t compromise her/his rights. Education creates self confidence in human personality which considered as the first stage of development of human being. Further Dr. Ambedkar argued that “The people don’t sustain in struggle of life until they get educated. Since they get caught in the clutches of social problems such as insult, suppression and desecration. So it is the duty of the existing government to accelerate by providing education” (Ambedkar, 1989).

Further he posits that “The backward classes have come to realize that after all education is the greatest material benefit for which they can fight. We may forgo material benefits, we may forgo material benefits of civilization, but we cannot forgo our right and opportunities to reap the benefit of the highest education to the fullest extent. That the importance of this question from the point of view of the backward classes who have just realized that without education their existence is not safe”.

Social Structure and Access to Education in India:

Indian society is characterized by a high degree of structural inequality based upon the organization of people into caste and ethnic groups and produces highly discriminatory outcomes with respect socially marginalized groups despite provisions of social protection and affirmative policies that seek to eliminate structural inequalities that constrain the growth of human capabilities. In Ancient India educational system based on caste system where the Bhramin was the only who could take the education and Kshartriya had to warfare and Vaishya was doing the trade and finance related activity and Shudra was the services provider to all above caste (Varna) and last the Atishudras were the excluded from the fold of Varna system called as untouchables. The nature of education system has undergone major changes since ancient times up until present times where constitution recognizes rights of every citizen to get education. To understand the education system we should know the journey of education in India. Firstly the Vedic education system was in India where Varna structure was followed and which segregated education into two: one was who get education and second who didn’t? So who had right to get education been only Bhramin, Kshatriya, Vaishya while Shudra and Atishudra were not allowed to get education. One of the interesting facts is that in Vedic education system was Temple considered as a source of knowledge as like today’s university.

The former, known as the caste system, is the social organization of Hindus who comprise more than 80 per cent of the Indian population. In this system, people are divided into social groups of castes and assigned hierarchal and unequal social positions and rights which are predetermined during birth. The caste system is highly exclusionary in nature: exclusion is integral to the system and thus, a consequence of its basic features. Social exclusion between caste groups is ensured through the practices of endogamy and social separation. In retrospect, every caste – except those at the top of the caste hierarchy – has suffered from unequal and hierarchal assignment of rights. The erstwhile untouchables, also known as the Scheduled Castes (SCs), having been located at the bottom of the caste hierarchy, are the ones who suffered the most. For instance, apart from manual labor and some occupations that were considered impure and polluting, the erstwhile untouchables were denied the right to do business or own property. They were even denied the right to education and civil, cultural and religious rights. Besides, they have been made to suffer from residential segregation and social isolation because they are considered impure and polluting and not fit for social association by the high castes (Ambedkar, 1936 and 1987; Akerlof, 1976; Lai, 1988; Scoville, 1991; and Thorat 2005).

Another source of exclusion is linked with ethnic identity from which groups like the Adivasis suffer. This group has been subjected to isolation, exclusion, neglect and underdevelopment owing to their geographical location and cultural exclusivity. Social exclusion in the case of this group has taken various forms:Including, denial of the right to resources around them – as a result of the policies of the government and the societal processes.

Importance of GOI PMS Scheme:

As part of affirmative action policies in Indian context, the constitution of India has several provisions and safeguards that provide reservations and other benefits to socially backward groups to uplift them and bring them into mainstream of development process. This has not only enabled the entry of theses extremely socially backward groups into educational institutions but provided them a sort of confidence to assert their rights. Scholarship schemes for SC and ST community serves one of the important instrument and policy measures to improve the higher educational enrollment ratio of lower castes and tribes in India. The Government of India Post-Metric Scholarship has a large coverage compared to all other schemes. This has not only enabled the higher enrollment of backward community students into higher educational institution, but also to get themeselves educated. This has definitely increased their potentiality as prospective workers or laborer in the job market. It has gained them self-respect and help them assert their right for various kinds of entitlement (social, political, economical). This scheme has really raised the ratio of the participation of lower caste communities in rural areas and specially girls.

Below I will provide a brief overview of schemes for socially backward categories particularly in the State of Maharashtra.

Number of Schemes for SC, ST OBC in Maharashtra in Higher education

  • Scholarships in Maharashtra

    • Schedule Caste

      • Post-Matric Tuition Fee and Examination Fee

      • GOI-MPS

      • Foreign Education Scholarship

    • Schedule Tribe

      • Tuition exam fee (Free ship)

      • Post-Matric tuition fee and examination fee

      • GOI-MPS

      • Vocational Education fee

      • Foreign Scholarship

    • Other Backward Class

      • Post- Matric and examination fee

The Government of India Post Metric Scholarship is an important and radical scheme. The scheme is implemented by the help of financial assistance of both the Central and State Government. The main objective of this scheme is to encourage students from backward community to undergo post-metric courses.

Operational area- these scholarships have been given to all recognized colleges/Institute students for post metric courses in full time program. Under this scheme the eligible Scheduled Castes, including Nav-Buddha students, are paid maintenances allowance ranging from Rs. 230/- per month to Rs.550/- per month for boys and girls (day scholar) and Rs.230 to 1200 per month for boys and girls (Hostellers). In addition to the maintenance allowance, all fees which are compulsorily payable by the students to the institutions are also covered under the scheme. Eligibility criteria includes those candidate’s Parents/Guardian whose annual income is upto Rs 2,00,000/- limit for full scholarship. Student category should be Scheduled caste or Navbouddha and they should be resident of Maharashtra. Student studying above 10th standard and who are in full-time employment are ineligible for this scholarship, also students studying in the same class will not get scholarships. While all children of a family will get this scholarship, those scholars who received another scholarship will not get this scholarship from that date. Eligible student should submit fully filled application form to institutions where the students are studying.

Issues and Problems of Students:

The Central Government’s Social Justice Department has set an income limit of Rs.2,50,000/- by increasing the limit of 200,000 set in 2013, but the Maharashtra State Government has not yet extended this increase in the state. From the year 2011-12, this scholarship process became an online e-scholarship where the maintenance allowances are disburse through am online process. This has led to a new set of impediments such as:

  • Lack of Awareness of using computers

  • Delay in scholarship

  • Scholarship amount not disbursed monthly

  • Given Amount sanctioned is inadequate

  • Due to lack of documentation mostly caste and income certificate from the Tehsil sometimes lead to cases of exploitation against applicants/students

  • Third child onwards are not eligible for this scheme

  • The head of Institute and institutional staff lack sensitivity and are not supportive of the process

  • Head of Social Welfare Department and Staff sometimes carry a very negative outlook of this scheme

  • Scholarship are not disbursed regularly

  • Scholarship are not received on time due to this financial stress

  • No Books, study material or stationary provided

  • Hostel and Dining hall expenses are more than sanctioned amount

  • Students do not get scholarship for two professional courses

  • Reports of Mental torture by some professors within institutions

  • There is possibility of harming students through mental harassment, humiliation, dishonor

  • Gross neglect by Administrative staff of the institute

  • Some Institute claims that they pay scholarship from their own funds

  • The Authorities display a very careless attitude

The Disbursement Process:

The report by (late) B.D Sharma the commissioner of SC/ST in 1987 stated that disbursement leaves much to be desired. Sometimes, the first installment may not be received event till the middle of the academic session and in some cases students collect the entire amount at the end of the session. Consequently, only those who can get some support from a voluntary organization during the intervening period can continue their education.

The Disbursement process: Institutional View

Interview with Principle and other concerned administrative personnel in responsible positions implies some of the complaints about the inefficiency of the DSW.

  1. Lack of adequate resources

  2. Lack of information about the entire mechanism for distribution and procurement of funds

  3. Corruption

  4. Colleges have to pay from their own funds and get the funds reimbursed from DSW

  5. There are no clear cut instructions to unaided colleges, who may indulge in wholesale breach of rules.

Scholarship which should be given on a regular monthly basis to these needy students are given irregularly and sporadically, causing financial strain and immense psychological stress. The most needy students are the ultimate sufferers.

Discussion with Colleges Authorities/Administration

  1. Rejection of Application – i) Certificate incomplete, forms not filled (Income, Caste. ii) Choice of second non-permissible course. iii) Applicant is third male child. iv) False caste certificate. v) ATKT or failure. vi) Delay in submission of forms.

Subjective Experience

Forms of Exclusion

There are various forms of being excluded from the process within an Institute/ Institutions. These are complex entrance process, language of entrance test, GOI scheme does not provide scholarship for second professional course, financial exclusion, lack of awareness, lack of documentation, third child and Income limit. The process of entrance into higher education particularly in professional courses is so complex that it creates fear among students coming from SC and ST backgrounds, therefore very less number of SC and ST students even attempt to get into institutions of higher education.

A second form of exclusion is the language of entrance test. Most of the good institutes or universities conduct their entrance exam in English language and the majority of SC, ST students have studied in local language or in Hindi medium school with low quality of education. Due to this, no matter how intelligent the student are, due to second language student finds it difficult to understand the question and are excluded due to language competence.

As per GOI – PMS scheme, third child or more are not eligible for this scheme. If there are more than two child in a family and they all yearn to pursue higher education, due to this eligibility norm they are restricted from accessing higher education.

There is another eligibility criteria in GOI PMS scheme, that Students cannot avail scholarship for two professional courses. If someone wants to change the stream or want to study another course this scheme excludes those students.

Financial Exclusion

The scholarship amount from the last 10 years are irregular and the amount of scholarship is also inadequate to fulfill the basic educational and personal needs. As a result, students take loan from friends or ask for money from their parents, and if someone is ready to provide loan, the burden of repayment of loan is a major disturbance to his or her study. There are many students who leave the institution because they are not able to afford higher education.

Further due to poor academic performance i.e failure, are due to personal/family sickness, domestic problem or financial problems. This reminds us that despite the scheme of post martic scholarship and other incentives, the student cannot sustain oneself because of financial problems which are attributed to their all poor socio-economic condition( Wankhade.G.G and Velaskar.P). This effects their studies to a great extent.

Forms of Discrimination and Domination

Before the online process of the scholarship, student used to face different kind of problems e.g. rude behavior of the administrator concerned and other staff’s behaviour impacts the student adversely, especially those who come from rural background and among those who are not aware of the formalities of availing GOI scholarship. Many times this results in discouraging the students. Principles and Chairman of the Colleges are reported to have threatened SC/ST students, and not allow them to attend college in case amount of the scholarship would not sanctioned by social welfare office. It has been observed that different student organizations have played important roles to expand the reach of GOI scholarship across the state.

Forms of Institutional Mechanism and How They Operate

There are two classification of higher education; one is general studies and second is professional studies. Students are reported to have faced difficulties in both these domains. The difficulties faced among those pursuing general studies are financial, academic and social-emotional problems. Financially they are very poor and thus not in a position to maintain their minimum standard of living in terms of clothing, food, accommodation of average standard etc. The educationist G.G Wankhade explains in his report in detail the various type of difficulties faced by these students. Further, academic difficulties like regular attendance (in case of those working), books, other learning material etc and those who study through English medium at higher level of education face lot of difficulties in understanding the subjects taught, the content of books and the lessons taught in class.

Experiencing social and emotional pain, these students form their own group, and cluster around themselves, since students from upper castes do not generally accept them. Their interactions with fellow students and teachers get restricted due to caste identity which is deemed low and they experience stigmatization. The overall effect of these problems could be that they develop inferiority complex and live in a semi-limbo state of mind. Further, availing the post-matric scholarship denotes being a low-caste which is ridiculed or looked down upon by the majority people. Even in such a condition, most of the students have no option but to accept the scholarship and avail these facilities.

The difficulties faced during professional education studies are similar but in addition there are social and academic discrimination; especially when there are internal examinations/practical. There are difficulties experienced in learning in the English language while studying since they come from vernacular background. Acute financial problems and the lack of proper guidance with emotional moral support is always felt wanting. As a culmination of these problems, most of the students perform poorly and even fail, and take longer time to complete their studies.

It is reported that when these student go to their teachers for discussing learning problems of English language, the Teacher instead of giving support, motivation or guidance, they instead demoralize those student. Some go to the extent of stating that if you do not understand the content then you should leave the course, study hard and join next year. Due to this, the students from rural background do not find anyone who supports them and he or she will in many occasions leave the course ‘voluntarily’. In other more blatant cases the teacher will fail them and thus indirectly force student out of the programme.

Conclusion:

Although the scholarship scheme looks good and ideal on paper, it has several limitations and flaws that constrain students and their educational pursuits. The insights from the field suggest that students are faced with great difficulties not only because of financial stress but also due to non-conducive environment in their academic pursuits. It aggravates the intensity of students problems and retards their progress in academics and studies. The administration do not actively support and instead discourage students in many occasion. In India we are experiencing a crisis in the university system and students from SC, ST and OBC are discriminated upon both structurally and systemically. The practice of exclusion is a norm, embedded in the daily practice of upper caste culture.

References:

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches ,(trans) vol.19,Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar’s Biography means publishing committee, Mumbai, 2005, page 283.

Thorat,S., & Senapati, C. (2007). Reservation in Employment, Education, and Legislature: Status and Emerging Issues, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies.

Gaikwad, P.,(2015). MagasvargiyachyaVikasYojna. DikshabhoomiSandesh,SamtaPrakashan, Nagpur.

Wankhade G.G, & Velaskar, P. (1999).The Post-Matric scholarship scheme for SC/ST in Maharashtra and Goa – an Evaluation, Unite for research in Sociology of Education Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Prepared for The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.

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