Friday, December 7, 2012

Centre’s minority scholarships scuttled


Ahmedabad: Chief minister Narendra Modi had attempted to bridge the chasm between his government and the Muslim community with the Sadbhavana Mission. But such overtures don’t square up with some of his dispensation’s postures — for example, it has been vehemently opposing the benefit of scholarships to minority students. The scholarships have been on offer from the Centre since 2008. The Modi government has been dragged to the Gujarat high court by a Bhuj resident, Adam Chaki, over the denial of scholarships.
    The state government, for its part, has adopted an ultrasecular stand in court, saying that it will not discriminate against any community on religious lines.
    The government has submitted that offering scholarships to minorities will automatically create discrimination against other communities, which is against ethos and provisions of the Constitution. Another point put forth in denying pre-matriculation scholarships is that it is not compulsory for the state government to implement all schemes offered by the Centre. The state government has refused to add its 25% share to funds that are received from the Centre for this purpose. The PIL, which demands the implementation of the Centre’s scheme, says that the Centre allotted Rs 9.82 crore for the award of 52,260 pre-matriculation scholarships in Gujarat.
    While the Modi government maintains that it would not offer benefits to people on religious lines, the Centre has termed the state biased and accused it of adopting dual standards. The Centre has told the court that the state government has been implementing an identical scheme since 1979, but the issue of religion never seemed to have appeared in the implementation.
    The central government also highlighted that while Gujarat denies pre-matriculation scholarships to minority students, it implemented in 2008 two scholarship schemes that are a part of the package offered for the uplift of minorities, especially Muslims. The Centre also alleged that since pre-matriculation scholarships have a wider reach, the state government does not want to implement the scheme.
    The high court has posed several questions to the state and the Centre. The final hearing has been going on for more than a month.