India: The Modi government has disclosed that they are planning on discontinuing the “Maulana Azad National Scholarship Scheme”, which was initially created and implemented in response to the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, at the beginning of 2022-23. The Fellowship, established in 2009, provided students of six minority communities – Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis, and Sikhs – with financial assistance in order to complete MPhil and PhD programmes.
This cancellation is certain to have a prejudicial effect on the Muslim, Sikh, and Christian students, as they will be deprived of a valuable opportunity to study and progress in their respective fields.Student organizations across India have denounced the recent rollback of Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) by the Modi-led BJP government as a ‘blatant injustice’, and have urged immediate reinstatement of the scholarship earmarked for students from minority communities.
This is seen as a violation of the Right to Education for the disadvantaged minority communities, and an affront to the vision of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar for a more inclusive India. The Right to Education Act, 2009 mandates that the Central Government must provide compulsory and free elementary education to all. In this regard, the Punjab State Commission for Minorities has addressed an appeal to the Hon’ble Smt. Drupadi Murmu, President of India, called for directions to the Central Government to resume these schemes and grants for the benefit of the minority communities.
This past year has seen the Sangh Parivar attempt to deny Muslim women the right to education and to push its version of aggressive majoritarian cultural nationalism by taking over educational spaces. The stopping of MANF could be seen as part of this campaign, denying access to education as well as keeping higher studies in the hands of privileged few.
The latest announcement by the BJP government reinforces its hostile stance against minoritie.