The Ministry of Social Justice notification making National Eligibility Test (NET) mandatory for Scheduled Caste (SC) students to receive M.Phil. and Ph.D. funding under the National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste Students is 'exclusionary' in nature and hundreds of promising scholars the community will be forced to abandon their education due to lack of funds, says student body SIO. The Ministry notification comes after the NET was made mandatory earlier for the MANF or Maulana Azad National Fellowship for minority students, another central fellowship in which the University Grants Commission (UGC) is the nodal agency for implementation.
National Fellowship scheme for providing fellowship to Scheduled Caste students, previously known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship, a central sector scheme, was introduced during the financial year 2005-06 to provide opportunities to Scheduled Castes students for pursuing higher education leading to M.Phil and Ph.D degrees in Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences and Engineering and Technology streams.
"This order will have an exclusionary effect and hundreds of promising scholars from the SC community will be forced to abandon their education due to lack of funds," president of Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Labeed Shafi said in a statement.
The objective of the scheme is to provide fellowships in the form of financial assistance to students belonging to SC category to pursue higher studies in Indian institutions recognized by the UGC.
Notification regarding changed criteria for National Fellowship for Scheduled Castes students.
The scheme provides 2,000 fellowships (1500 Junior Research Fellows for Humanities/Social Sciences and 500 Junior Research Fellows for Science stream) in a year.
"Scheduled Caste candidates who have qualified National Eligibility Test- Junior Research Fellowship (NET-JRF) of UGC or UGC-Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (UGC-CSIR) Joint Test should enroll for the course in the eligible Universities/Institutions/Colleges within Six months from the date of declaration of results by UGC in respect of the above and be registered within 01 year from date of enrolment," says the eligibility details from the new rules notified by the Ministry of Social Justice in October last year.
Earlier, BJP parliamentarian Udit Raj also called the move "unjust".
"The new guidelines are unjust and a move to exclude Dalit students from higher education," he said last month at a news conference held by the Delhi University Teachers Association to protest the "attack on reservation in educational institutions", as reported by The Telegraph.
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