The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued fresh guidelines barring students from applying for the National Overseas Scholarship (NOS) to study several humanities subjects, including Indian history, culture and heritage, abroad.
Published earlier this month for 2022-23, the ministry has sought applications by March 31.
R Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment Department, said the move was a considered one. “There is a rich repository of resources and excellent universities and courses within the country on these subjects. We have made an estimation within the ministry of the capabilities guiding high-quality research within the country and felt that the scholarship for studying abroad was not needed to study Indian history, culture or heritage. In any case for such subjects, the majority of the field work would have to be within the country and 3/4th of the time a student spend would be in India. So, we felt that the resources could be better spent on gaining expertise in other fields in foreign universities,” he said.
“We have not taken out social studies entirely from the NOS,” he said, adding that students who wanted to study these particular subjects could apply for fellowships the ministry provided for Indian universities.
The decision has invited criticism from different quarters. Senior Congress Dalit leader PL Punia said: “This is an objectionable move. If a Scheduled Caste student wants to pursue super-specialisation in a particular field in a foreign university, he/she should be encouraged and allowed to do so. This move restricts the opportunities for SC youth. The government is pushing Dalits out of the higher education system.”
However, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute Director Prof Badri Narayan said: “Any archival research or field work on these subjects needs to be necessarily carried out in the country itself. If the ministry has decided to better utilize these funds in other subjects, it should not be an issue,” he added.