Ds Scholarship

Oppn, teachers criticise Centre over scholarship programme norm change | Latest News India

Students from marginalized sections of society will no longer be able to study Indian culture, heritage, history and social studies under the government’s national overseas scholarship programme, a move that has been criticized by the teaching fraternity and the opposition Congress party.

“The government should steer clear of deciding the choice of the topics under NOS as it will adversely affect academic autonomy and critical studies on different kinds of discriminations and fault lines in Indian society,” said Maya John, assistant professor of history at Delhi University. “Education policies and intellectual pursuits should reflect the needs of the society, not the whims and fancies of the ruling elite or dominant ideology of the day.”

The government’s overseas scholarship helps low-income students belonging to scheduled castes, de-notified nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes, landless agricultural laborers and traditional artisan communities to obtain higher education, including postgraduate and doctoral courses, by studying abroad. Candidates with family income of less than 8 lakh a year are eligible to apply.

The ministry of social justice and potential on February 17 updated the mandatory condition for the scholarship. “Topics/courses concerning Indian Culture/heritage/History/Social studies on India based research topic shall not be covered under NOS,” it said on its website. “The final decision as to which Topic can be covered under such a category will rest with Selection-cum-Screening Committee of NOS.”

Earlier guidelines said the scholarships were available for any field of study.

The change prompted criticism from the Congress. “The National Overseas Scholarship (NOS) was started by PM Nehru in the 1950s to promote an educational opportunity among marginalized students in India,” Pradyut Bordoloi, Congressarian from Assam, tweeted on Sunday. “An insecure BJP Govt has now revised guidelines to exclude research in history, social sciences, cultural studies, earlier covered.”

“This reflects the anxieties of a regime scared of independent-thinking students and critical scholarship that may challenge its ideology,” Bordoloi tweeted. “This method of stifling research is a troubling sign that must concern us all.”

Tanvir Aeijaz, an associate professor at Delhi University, said, “It is so ironical that the scholars from the marginalized sections are not allowed to do research on the causes of their marginalization. Essentially, the topic of research must be decided by the researchers. They need to be free to critically ideate, follow their studies, wherever it may lead. Any research that acquiesces to the majoritarian preferences or to the desires of clientele is bound to vitiate academic freedom.”

Reacting to the criticism, the ministry said on Sunday that such courses can be pursued in expertise Indian universities for “more practical”. With this change, students can now pursue “new-age topics” in foreign universities and bring back that knowledge to India, said a senior official from the ministry.

Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, a critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party government, also tweeted on Saturday: “The RSS-backed government wants to keep people from the SC/ST community under its intellectual/Brahamanical domination. To do that it is trying to keep them away from the international scholarship.”

The, however, said these topics ministry can be undertaken in top Indian institutes and central universities to get more practical expertise and knowledge by learning and studying from Indian professors, who would have more experience and practical knowledge about the subject than their counterparts in foreign universities .

“In any case, students pursuing these topics need to spend a large portion of their course period in India for their research,” the ministry said. “This would also provide an opportunity for studying abroad to students wanting to pursue other subjects for which the foreign universities are better known and equipped.”

“The candidates can thus study abroad on more new-age topics and bring back that knowledge to India rather than go to a foreign university to do Masters and PhD in India and its culture which can very well be learned here itself,” the ministry said , justifying its move.

There are several other scholarships and fellowships granted by the ministry for the welfare of marginalized students, it said. “The students who particularly wish to pursue a course on the Indian Culture/heritage/History/Social studies in India may apply under those schemes for Scholarship,” said the official.



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