Modi government deprives Muslim students of education: SIO

A convention of prominent activists in the field of education lambasted the state government for failing to implement the Central Government-sponsored Minority Schemes thus depriving 50,000 beneficiaries since 2007-08 the year of inception of the schemes.

The meeting was jointly convened by the Students Islamic Organisation of India, Gujarat Zone &  Federation of Muslim Educational Institutions of India, Gujarat Chapter and was attended by prominent activists including Kalim Ansari – President SIO Gujarat, Muhammad Shafi Madni – President Jamaat-e-Islami Gujarat, Gyasuddin Sheikh – Member of Legislative Assembly Gujarat State, Kasam Vora – CEO, Gujarat Sarvajanik Education Society, Gulab Khan Rauma – Social Acivist, Patan, Fazal Sheikh – Nodal Officer, Indian Technical Institutes Gondal Region, Juned Sheikh, social activist, SP Amjad Khan, Municipal Councillor Ahmedabad, Dr. Iftikhar Malik, social activist from Modasa, Abdul Kadir Memon, President of Jamat-e-Islami Sabarkantha, and members of SIO of India among others.

The participants were also critical of the Central Government for not pushing the State Government to discharge its duty. The participants felt that the Central Government was well aware of the ill intentions of the State Government and should have tried to implement the scheme through a nodal agency directly reporting to the Centre. If the Central Government would have shown resolve they could have channelised their 75% share and thus prevented at least Rs.10 Crores from getting lapsed every year.

The activists also expressed their displeasure towards lack of clarity in the procedures for the easier implementation of scholarship schemes. The participants also agreed to urge State as well as Central government for increasing the number of beneficiaries of the entire Minority Community including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and ones defined by the Central Government in all schemes viz. Merit Cum Means Scholarship, Post-Matric scholarships and  pre-Matric scholarships. They also demanded single window arrangement for all correspondences required for the Scholarships.

The participants vowed to launch an awareness campaign among the masses and also mobilise resources to influence the government machinery and the political parties for a sincere implementation of the schemes intended for the Minorities. It was also decided during the meeting to publish a Scholarship Guide and to set up help centres in all the districts of the State for the benefit of the student community, The 2010-2011 final examinations are almost over and the admission process for the new academic year is in full swing. But the ambitious Muslim students who want to pursue higher studies are down in the dumps.

In view of the five-million population of Muslims in Gujarat, some 60,000 students are eligible for these scholarships but the land of the Mahatma is the only state which has steadfastly refused to implement the scheme, thus depriving thousands of school-children of financial aid.

According to Gyasuddin Shaikh, a local Congress legislator, the Narendra Modi government does not want to chip in with its share of just 25 per cent of the total amount of the scholarships that come to merely Rs. 12.5 million annually. No wonder, even as Modi continued to make desperate attempts to woo Muslim leaders in Gujarat ahead of next year’s assembly elections, the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) hurriedly called a meeting of Muslim leaders to discuss the injustice being done to minority students. Shaikh, who participated in the debate, also expressed the lack of clarity in and information on procedures governing implementation of various scholarship schemes, adding that it was time the quota for Muslim, Christian, Parsi and Sikh beneficiaries was increased substantially.

Muslim leaders have now decided to publish a scholarship guide and set up help centres in all the districts in Gujarat for the benefit of the student fraternity. But the Central government should also be equally blamed for not compelling the Modi regime to discharge its duty. As Madni said, New Delhi was well aware of the ‘ill-intentions of the state administration which had failed to channelise the Centre’s 75 per cent share, adding that scholarships worth Rs100 million lapsed every year.

 However, with assembly polls nearing, reliable government officials say Modi, who has been meeting more and more Muslim leaders of late, is contemplating reconsidering his earlier decision not to provide the pre-matriculation scholarships to minority students. According to them, Modi had taken a particular view three years ago at the National Development Council meeting in Delhi in December 2007, where he declared that giving scholarships to minority students was discriminatory against other backward sections of society.

A BJP leader said Modi wanted to change his anti-minority image but a shrewd strategist that he was, he wanted some assurance from minority leaders of support for him and would announce his decision ‘at an opportune time’. Currently only those minority students get scholarship whose families earn less than Rs11,000 a year, a criterion which will make no student eligible.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2011 on page no. 8

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