New Delhi: The government is planning a national scholarship site to allow students to apply for state grants online.
An initiative of the ministry of social justice and empowerment, the site will feature the post-matriculation scholarship programme for scheduled caste (SC) and other backward caste (OBC) students, a ministry official said.
Scholarship programmes run by other government departments such as the ministry of tribal affairs and human resource development will eventually be moved to the site.
“The idea behind the national scholarship portal was to have a one-stop shop where a student can find out about various scholarship schemes and whether he or she is eligible for the scheme,” said the official, who did not want to be identified. “It will help in better implementation and monitoring of the scholarship schemes of the government.”
The site will also allow students to check scholarship options besides allowing them to apply online.
“Currently, 50 lakh (5 million) SC students and 18-20 lakh OBC students are beneficiaries of the post matric scholarship schemes,” the official said.
The scholarship money will be credited directly to the bank accounts of eligible students under the recently launched direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme of the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
The first phase of DBT, rolled out on 1 January, already has a few of the ministry’s schemes on its list including pre-matric and post-matric schemes for SC and OBC students.
The proposal for the site was discussed at the first meeting of the executive committee on cash transfers at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on 9 November. Mint has reviewed the minutes of the meeting, which suggested a portal for “SCs/STs/OBCs/minorities/meritorious” students.
The National Informatics Centre—which handles e-governance projects for the government—will create the portal.
Some states already offer scholarships online, including Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Union government plans to provide links to these on the site.
Experts said more needs to be done in creating awareness about the various scholarship programmes run by the government.
“Most OBC and SC students are not aware of such schemes. A centralized portal in place like this would mean that students become more aware about the schemes and get all the information from a single portal,” said M. Mujtaba Khan, professor at the Dr. K.R. Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University. “However, there is a need for more awareness campaigns through visual and print media for OBC and SC students to access such scholarship programmes in a better way.”