The fellowship for scholars from the minority communities was started during the UPA regime as part of implementing the Sachar Committee recommendations.
NEW DELHI — In a move that is likely to draw ire, the Government of India has decided to discontinue the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF), a scholarship for students from minority communities, from this academic year.
MANF was launched during the UPA regime as part of implementing the Sachar Committee recommendations.
The objective of the scheme was to provide integrated five-year fellowships in the form of financial assistance to students from minority communities, as notified by the Central Government to pursue higher studies such as M.Phil and PhD. The scheme is open to candidates who belong to one of the minority communities i.e. Muslim, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist & Christian.
On Thursday, Union Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani told Lok Sabha here that the decision was made since MANF overlaps with various other schemes.
“Since the MANF scheme overlaps with various other fellowship schemes for higher education implemented by the government and with minority students already covered under such schemes, the government has decided to discontinue the MANF scheme from 2022-23,” Irani said.
She said that as per the data provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which had implemented the scheme, about 6,722 candidates were selected under it between 2014-15 and 2021-22 and fellowships to the tune of ₹738.85 crore were distributed during the same period.
In a reply to a question by Congress MP T.N. Prathapan, Irani said that all such schemes, except MANF, are open for candidates of all communities including minorities but the data of fellowship distributed among minority students is captured only under the MANF scheme.
Prathapan said he will raise the issue of stopping MANF in Parliament. “This is injustice. A number of researchers will lose their chance to study further by this step,” he said.
Reportedly, research scholars had been facing months of delay in availing the scholarship.
Meanwhile, National Students Union’s Jamia Millia Islamia president N.S. Abdul Hameed took to Twitter to demand withdrawal of the order to discontinue the fellowship.
“We demand immediate withdrawal of GOI’s decision to discontinue #MANF for minorities. Is this how you implement #SabkaVikas? Stopping a fellowship scheme named after Maulana Azad is an insult towards our nation builders too,” he tweeted.
We demand immediate withdrawal of GOI’s decision to discontinue #MANF for minorities. Is this how you implement #SabkaVikas? Stopping a fellowship scheme named after Maulana Azad is an insult towards our nation builders too.@smritiirani @ShashiTharoor @INCMinority @tnprathapan pic.twitter.com/fzl4PlMRVb
— N.S Abdul Hameed (@NSAbdulHameed) December 8, 2022