Two of the country’s foremost scholarship schemes — Indira Gandhi scholarship for single girl child and Rajiv Gandhi national fellowship for SC/ST students — are in doldrums with the benefit not reaching thousands of needy students and many universities returning the unutilized funds.
The University Grants Commission manages both the scholarships. While the Indira Gandhi scholarship (IGS) is a UGC scheme, funds for the Rajiv Gandhi national fellowship come from ministries of social justice and tribal affairs.
IGS was started in 2005-06 for the single girl child to pursue non-professional courses at the postgraduate level. It promises Rs 2,000 every month for 20 months in two years. But, sources say, due to mismanagement by UGC, many universities have returned the funds. The problem, the sources say, is that while the application for the scholarship is made directly by the students, the scholarship amount is disbursed through the universities. “Many universities and colleges do not inform the students about the scholarship money, hence the money remains unspent. We are considering tying up with a nationalized bank so that the money can be credited into the account of the students,” says Ved Prakash, acting chairperson, UGC.
Unlike many scholarships, there is no limitation to IGS. It can be given to any single girl child admitted in the first year of a non-professional postgraduate course in any recognized college. Though Prakash did not give the amount of the unutilized money, sources said Rs 3.6 lakh has been returned by Kalyani University, Rs 12 lakh by Mahatma Gandhi University, and more than Rs 7 lakh by Delhi University.
In the case of the Rajiv Gandhi fellowship, it is even worse. To be given annually to 2,000 SC and 667 ST students pursuing MPhil or Phd, UGC does not have the figure of how many have dropped out of the scheme and how many are getting it.