Friday, January 27, 2023

Anti-minority sentiments behind scrapping of MANF scheme: Cong

Congress member K Suresh on Friday termed the scrapping of the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) scheme as an “anti-minority” move by the Narendra Modi government and said the decision will make higher education inaccessible to underprivileged students belonging to the minority communities.
Raising the issue in Lok Sabha during Zero Hour, the Congress member also said the discontinuation of the fellowship scheme will have a pan-India adverse impact on the higher education of students belonging to Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Christian, Parsi and Sikh.
“The move is an insult to Maulana Azad. It also disregards all the freedom fighters and their memories of sacrifice,” he charged.
So far, students from these six notified minority communities received financial assistance for pursuing higher education under the scheme which covers all the institutions recognised by the University Grants Commission, he said.
With the discontinuation of the scheme,”…the higher education will become inaccessible to underprivileged students from the six notified minority communities,” Suresh added.
The MANF scheme for the minority community students pursuing higher education has been scrapped while the government’s pre-matric scholarship for them will no longer apply to students from Class 1 to Class 8.
In a written reply to a question recently in the Lok Sabha, Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani said the government provided fellowships for higher education through various schemes, including the MANF, implemented by different ministries or departments.
All these schemes, except the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, are open for candidates of all communities, including minorities, but the data of fellowship distributed among minority students is included only under the Maulana Azad National Fellowship scheme, she said.
“Since the MANF scheme overlaps with various other fellowship schemes for higher education being implemented by the government and minority students are already covered under such schemes, hence the government decided to discontinue the MANF Scheme from 2022-23,” Irani had said.
Congress member Suresh termed the reason cited by the minister for discontinuation of the MANF as an “excuse” and said it defies the logic as any overlap could have been identified from the Aadhaar and other documents of the students applying for the fellowship under the scheme.
“The Anti minority sentiments behind the (government’s) decision is evident,” he charged.

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