5 Brutal Budget Cuts Modi Govt. Made That’s Hit Students From Marginalised Communities

Following the education cuts made by the current government in the financial budget presented in September 2016, there was heavy scrutiny by the opposition as well as the populace. An official at the Union Human Resource and Development Ministry pointed out how the government had reduced the education budget by 25%, and most of the heat had to be faced by none other than the University Grants Commission (UGC).

One of the outcomes was a rise in the delay of scholarships received by worthy students enrolled in different programs. Although this lag in reimbursement of scholarships hit every student who relied on it, those from economically backward sections, belonging to the Dalit, Bahujan or Adivasi communities were affected the most. This article aims to list and talk about a few cases from recent memory where students from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) categories were the worst hit by such cutbacks.

1. Fee Waivers Revoked At TISS

In 2017, TISS released a notice informing students of the university’s change in policy. The notice pointed out that the students from SC/ST/OBC communities seeking admission to TISS in the year 2018 would have to bear their own hostel and dining expenses, and the support provided by the institute in the previous years would be withdrawn. The director of TISS, Dr Parasuraman said that the institute was facing severe budget cuts and was waiting for almost 20 crores from the central government and hence, unable to provide financial assistance to its students.

Along with a cut in waivers provided to students from marginalised communities, TISS has seen a continuous fee hike as well, owing to the lack of support from the Centre over the last few years. According to a charter released in 2018 by the student union of TISS, the percentage of students from the OBC category has decreased from 22% in 2014-15 to 18% in 2016-17. This drop in figures shows the clear impact that depreciation in funds can have on a college.

2. Change In Disbursement Procedure Causes Delay

This month, Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha, wrote a letter to the centre, asking them to reconsider the change in policy regarding post-matric scholarships. Before 2016-17, the union government was responsible for providing a major segment of the funds allocated under this scheme. But this changed when, in 2017 the onus of funding about 80% of all scholarships was put on the state government. This abrupt change in the scholarship policy has caused a delay in fund transfer and led to a tough time for students under the scheme.

A similar effect can be seen in places like Manipur and Punjab. The All Tribal Student Union, Manipur (ATSUM), held the state as well as the Centre responsible for not being quick enough in disbursal of scholarships under this program, the delay being mostly due to the change in policy.

On the other hand, the government-affiliated universities in Punjab were requested not to charge the exorbitant fees from students belonging to the SC category, until, at least, the release of their scholarships under the GoI-PMS scheme.

3. Fee Hike In IGNOU

A leading college in terms catering to the needs of students from SC/ST/OBC communities, IGNOU, also introduced a fee hike in its programs. This hike was met with strong opposition from the student unions as well as the faculty of the institute. Being a university dedicated to bringing sustainable social change, a hike of about 20% in all of its 163 courses would make it extremely difficult for people from marginalised communities to get into such institutes.

A statement released by the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) mentioned the current and future fee amounts for various courses. This move by the authorities was credited to the 30% grant cut inflicted on the central and state universities, as dictated by the terms under the 7th Pay Commission. This decision to increase the fees is set to impact a lot of students who rely on subsidised courses.

4. Anna University Pulls Up Students For No Payment

Students from SC/ST communities studying at Shri Andal Alagar College of Engineering (affiliated to Anna University) in Mamandur, Chennai were forced to wait outside their examination hall for half an hour, owing to the delay in the payment of their fees. The Centre is required to deposit the fees so that the state government can release the post-matric scholarship. Since 2017, the state government of Tamil Nadu has continuously blamed the Centre for not releasing the SC/ST grants used by the state for payment of student scholarships.

According to this Times of India story, the engineering colleges that take admissions through Anna University counselling saw a decline of about 23% students belonging to SC/ST communities over the course of one year.

In 2015, similar cases resulted in students committing suicide – either over public humiliation following fee default or due to lack of consideration from government authorities, both state as well as central.

5. Fund Allocation Of More UGC Grants Interrupted

Along with curtailments and delays in the post-matric scholarships for students from SC/ST/OBC communities discussed above, the UGC has also been slacking in providing various other financial aids. Two of these are the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) and the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship (RGNF). Yet again, the system has failed students belonging to India’s minority communities as well as Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi students who for their education, rely on the support of the Social Welfare and Minority Ministry along with the UGC.

Although concerned officials in their response said that the deserving students were selected in 2016-17, a change in the UGC’s selection procedure for MANF is what has caused the delay. This has reportedly meant a total of about 2500 fellowships lapsing over two years. Along with a delay in the disbursal of amounts, both MANF and RGNF suffer from other problems like a lack of communication between the UGC and the disbursal authorities.

These are a few of the numerous incidents which have come to haunt the academic life of research scholars and fellows for some years now. The current BJP government has been accused over and over again for slashing important aids and funds to students and scholars from marginalised communities. Even though a lot of scholarships have seen an uptick in their number, a huge chunk of education-related support to these communities seems to have dwindled over the years.

There is no doubt that the education sector has suffered from massive budget cuts since 2014, resulting in widespread dissent and opposition from students. Movements like Occupy UGC and its likes exhibit the frustration that the withdrawal of non-NET fellowships and scholarships would cause across academia.

Nevertheless, be it the problem of coordination between the Centre and the state or be it the lack of funds dedicated to the education sector, it remains the responsibility of the government to better the situation as soon as possible. There is no healthy democracy without eligible representatives from every community India houses and by denying the opportunity of education to all of our students, we are necessarily dismantling the equal society we aspire to achieve.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Image source: TISS For Everyone/Facebook.
Similar Posts

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below