How many students have benefitted from scholarships and what was the budget allocation for scholarships?
The first claim is that over 3.3 crore students benefitted during 2014-16, with scholarships worth ₹7,565 crore. Central assistance (CA) is released to states for students belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC)/Other Backward Class (OBC) for the following schemes:
There are multiple other schemes, but these are the major scholarship schemes. Based on this answer and this answer provided in the Lok Sabha and the annual report of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, calculations have been made to arrive at the total amount of central assistance released during these years and the total number of beneficiaries of these schemes.
What about overall central assistance?
We also compared the central assistance for these four scholarship schemes during the last two years of the UPA government and the first two years of the current government. The budget allocations have only marginally increased in the current government. In the case of pre-matric scholarships for SC students, the highest amount was released in 2012-13. In the case of all the other schemes, the highest amount was released in 2015-16. It is also seen that the overall amount released in 2013-14 was more than the amount released in 2014-15.
What about the number of beneficiaries?
We also compared the total number of beneficiaries of these four schemes during the last two years of the UPA government and the first two years of the current government. While the overall beneficiaries were highest in 2012-13, it was the least in 2013-14. Though it has improved since then, the numbers are still lower than the 2012-13 mark.
CLAIM: Over 3.3 crore students benefitted during 2014-16, with scholarships worth₹7,565 crore.
FACT: The total number of beneficiaries during 2014-16 is 6.99 crore and the total amount of central assistance released is₹7,050.22 crore. Both the number of beneficiaries and the amount of central assistance hasn’t changed much from the last two years of the UPA government.
Hence, the claim is MISLEADING.
Has there been an increase in the income eligibility of pre-matric OBC scholarships?
As per the annual report of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, the pre-matric scholarship scheme is a “funds-limited” scheme. The scholarship is available in such institutions and for such pre-matriculation courses which have been duly recognised by the concerned state government and union territory administration. Under the scheme, 50 per cent central assistance is provided to the state governments over and above their committed liability, while in the case of union territories, 100 per cent central assistance is provided, subject to availability of the budget under the scheme. However, Northeast states are exempted from this committed liability under the scheme.
The second claim is that income eligibility has been raised from₹44,500 to₹2.5 lakh for the pre-matric scholarship for OBCs. The Ministry’s 2016-17 annual report mentions that the pre-matric scholarships are awarded to students belonging to OBCs whose parents’ income from all sources does not exceed₹44,500 per annum. However, the 2017-18 annual report of the Ministry mentions the annual income limit as₹2.5 lakh.
CLAIM: Income eligibility has been raised from₹44,500 to₹2.5 lakh for the pre-metric scholarship for OBCs.
FACT: The income eligibility has indeed been raised from₹44,500 in 2016-17 to₹2.5 lakh in 2017-18. Hence, the claim is TRUE.
Has there been an increase in the income eligibility of pre-matric SC scholarships?
The third claim is that income eligibility has been raised from₹2 lakh to₹2.5 lakh for the pre-matric scholarship for SC students. According to the 2017-18 annual report of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, “In order to include more beneficiaries, income eligibility criteria for Pre-Matric Scholarships for Scheduled Castes Students studying in Class IX and X was raised from₹2.00 Lakh to₹2.5 Lakh, at par with Post-matric scholarship for next three years i.e. 2017-18 to 2019-20.”
CLAIM: Income eligibility has been raised from₹2 lakh to₹2.5 lakh for the pre-metric scholarship for SC students.
FACT: The claim is TRUE.