New Delhi: Several parliamentarians on Tuesday demanded in Lok Sabha that the pre-matric scholarship and Maulana Azad Fellowship for minority students be restored, saying how will the country progress if the minority communities are left behind.
The Maulana Azad Fellowship for minority 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.
Several Muslim MPs raised the demand of bringing back the scholarships.
During a discussion on the supplementary demands for grants, BSP MP Danish Ali said the pre-matric scholarship and Maulana Azad Fellowship must be restored. "Everyone needs to be taken along for the prosperity of the country. How can you leave minorities behind and prosper?"
AIMIM MP Syed Imitiaz Jaleel also raised the demand, asking how will minority students study and progress if this fellowship is stopped.
Raising the issue of the education of minorities, Samajwadi Party member S T Hasan said the government should restart the scholarships it has done away with like the Maulana Azad National Fellowship. All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal also demanded that the scholarships be restored and called for enhancing the budget for minorities to provide education to them.
In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani had said the government provided fellowship for higher education through various schemes, including the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, 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 captured only under the Maulana Azad National Fellowship scheme, she had said.
"Since the MANF (Maulana Azad National Fellowship) 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 has decided to discontinue the MANF Scheme from 2022-23," Irani had said.