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What Do Students Do When Scholarships Are Denied?

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This post is a part of JaatiNahiAdhikaar, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more.

Deepak* is the first person from his family to pursue engineering. His parents work as agricultural labourers with seasonal jobs and he has two younger sisters, still in school. Counting on the Post-Matric scholarship to meet his expenses, he had hoped for a better life for himself and his family after completing education. But just after the second year, he realised that it wasn’t going to be an easy road. His scholarship was delayed by over a year and he had to manage his fees by borrowing money. Although he did receive his scholarship money later that year, he accepts that had the delay been any longer, he’d have been forced to drop out.

Google up “Post Matric Scholarship delay” and you would find a multitude of news articles, as far back as 2015 to throughout 2020.

  • Post-Matric Scholarship is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (meaning that the expenditure of the scheme is divided between Centre and states).
  • Under this, financial assistance is provided to SC and OBC students at the post-matric level to complete their education. (PMS for STs is a separate scheme under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs)
  • Parents/guardians’ income from all sources should not exceed Rs. 2,50,000/- per annum ( 1 lakh per annum, in case of OBCs)

Being a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, there is a continuous tussle between the Centre and States about their share of contribution in it. Before 2018, 60% of the funding came from the central government, remaining from state governments. In 2018, this was changed to 10:90, that is, the Union government had to pay only 10%. This led to many states abandoning the scheme altogether.

Even at the Central level itself, a scarcity of funds plagues the scheme. A report of the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment in 2020 [Page 10/78] revealed a huge gap of around 5000 crore rupees, between the funds demanded by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment and those allocated by the Ministry of Finance, for the scheme.


And thus, students have to face inordinate delays, even extending to 5-6  years, in availing their scholarships. In TISS, students had to resort to crowdfunding and borrowing as the institute refused to release the results and degrees because of late fee payment caused by Post-Matric Scholarship delay.

Due to fund cuts from the Centre, over 60 lakh senior school-goers from the Scheduled Caste categories were affected.

While some can continue amidst added struggles and hardship, many of these students, unable to arrange large amounts of money on their own, are forced to leave their education midway and forego, probably, their only chance for a better life. 

If you think that’s an exaggeration, let’s put things in perspective. The income ceiling of Rs 2,50,000/- per year amounts to around Rs 20,000/- per month. And for a family of 4 – Rs 5,000/- per person per month. It ultimately comes out to be 170 rupees per person per day! And this is the maximum limit we are talking about. 

According to the Annual Report 2019-20 of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (page 175/320), 60% of the beneficiaries of the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SCs, had family income less than Rs 50,000/- per annum – that for a family of 4, comes out to be even less than Rs 35/- per person per day!

It doesn’t help that they belong to the most marginalised communities and don’t have access to any social capital either.

The charts above, about the beneficiary data of Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SCs [Annual Report 2019-20, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment], show that 60% of the families had a family income less than fifty thousand rupees per annum.

Denying and delaying scholarships for these students –  will simply end up pushing their families further into poverty

And with the increasing privatisation of education and fees of government and private institutions increasing alike, students from marginalised communities will only end up being excluded from education completely. 

People who oppose reservations often suggest a utopian world where everyone should be provided free education. 

The post-matric scholarship is the nearest we could have got to such a reality. But its implementation shows how far away we are from it.

However, in a recent positive development, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs finally approved a 60-40 funding pattern for the PMS scheme for the centre and states.

Hopefully, this would prevent fund scarcity and scholarship delays and millions of students like Deepak can get into higher education without fearing whether they’ll be able to afford it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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