Maulana Azad Scholarship for minority communities discontinued by union government

New Delhi: The union government stated that the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, a scholarship for students from minority communities, has been discontinued from this academic year 2022-23. Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani announced this in Lok Sabha on Thursday in response to a question by Lok Sabha Congress MP TN Prathapan.

Irani stated that MANF scheme, dedicated to pursuing higher education, “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 has decided to discontinue the MANF scheme from 2022-23.”

In her reply, Irani added that as per the data provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC), 6,722 candidates were selected under the fellowship scheme between 2014-15 and 2021-22 with a cumulative disbursal of Rs 738.85 crore.

Launched in 2009, the Maulana Azad National Fellowship provided five-year financial assistance to students from six notified minority communities – Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis and Sikhs to pursue MPhil and PhD. The scope of the fellowship is to provide assistance to minority students pursuing regular and full-time research within India, and includes research projects by assistant professors.

The scheme covers all Universities/Institutions recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC). It was launched following the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, that had studied the socio-economic conditions of Muslim students in India.

Terming it “injustice”, Congress MP TN Prathapan said that the move will restrict many students from pursuing their higher education. He said that he would raise the issue in Parliament.

In July, The Hindu reported that MPhil and PhD research scholars had approached the minority affairs ministry and UGC over a nine-month delay in the disbursal of the fellowship. Then Irani had responded that the number of beneficiaries under most schemes launched by the Union minority affairs has declined since 2019-20.

In November, minorities affairs ministry had announced that the government’s pre-matric scholarship to students of minority communities will no longer apply to students from Class I to Class VIII, and only be continued for students from Class IX and Class X starting from 2022-23. The government had claimed that this was done to bring the minority affairs ministry scholarship in line with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Tribal Affairs.