Government Schemes for Scheduled Caste Community

Government schemes of scheduled caste community aims to uplift the community. Scheduled Castes are groups in the country facing social, educational, and economic challenges due to long-standing practices like untouchability and other issues related to insufficient facilities and isolation.

These communities, identified as Scheduled Castes under Article 341, require special attention for their well-being and speedy socio-economic progress. The Indian Constitution outlines protective measures for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other vulnerable sections.

These measures aim to promote their education and economic welfare, as well as eliminate social barriers, through specific provisions and emphasizing their general rights as citizens.

Government Schemes for Scheduled Caste Community

The government of India started several schemes in the country to uplift the living of the scheduled cast community. Among these schemes below are the six such schemes that aim to benefit the SCs within the country.

Upgradation of Merit of SC Students

The Scheme of Upgradation of Merit of SC Students began in 1987-88 under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, later shifting to the Ministry of Welfare in 1993-94.

This initiative seeks to address educational disparities by focusing on students from Scheduled Castes (SC) during their crucial academic years.

Objectives of the Scheme

The primary goal of the Scheme is to elevate the academic performance of SC students through targeted interventions. Specifically, it offers remedial and special coaching for students in classes IX to XII.

Remedial coaching aims to rectify subject-related deficiencies, while special coaching is geared towards preparing students for competitive examinations, especially those required for entry into professional courses like engineering and medicine.

Financial Assistance Under the Scheme

The plan ensures complete support from the central government to the States/Union Territories (UTs). Each student is entitled to an annual grant of Rs. 25,000, relieving the States/UTs of any financial obligations.

For SC students with disabilities, specific allowances are allocated, including reader allowance, transport allowance, and escorts allowance. The breakdown of the financial aid is as follows:

  • A grant of Rs. 25,000 per student annually
  • 15,000 per student yearly, covering
  • Boarding and lodging charges at Rs.900 per month for 10 months (applicable to students in residential schools)
  • Pocket money at Rs.300 for 10 months
  • 3,000 for books and stationery
  • 10,000 per student annually for honorarium to Principal, Experts, and other incidental charges.

Additionally, students with disabilities receive the following support in addition to the scholarship:

  • Reader allowance of Rs.200 per month for blind students in classes IX to XII.
  • Transport allowance of Rs.100 per month for disabled students not residing in a hostel within the educational institution’s premises.
  • Special pay of Rs.200 per month for any hostel employee assisting severely orthopedically handicapped students in hostels managed by educational institutions or the State Government/Union Territory Administration.
  • Escort allowance of Rs.100 per month for severely handicapped day scholar students with lower extremity disability.
  • Allowance of Rs.200 per month for extra coaching for mentally retarded and mentally ill students in classes IX to XII.

Scheme Coverage

The Scheme envisions supporting a maximum of 2050 new students annually. Coaching begins at the class IX level and continues until the student completes class XII.

Presently, the initiative is operational in 19 States/UTs, contributing to a widespread effort to uplift SC students and provide them with opportunities for a better educational trajectory.

While the allocated awards may be utilized equally for boys and girls in the ratio of 50:50, flexibility exists for unutilized awards.

If awards designated for girls remain unused, they can be directed towards boys, and vice versa. This approach ensures a fair and adaptable distribution of resources based on the prevailing needs and circumstances in each region.

Pre-Matric Scholarships

One of the government schemes for the scheduled caste community is the pre-matric scholarship scheme. The scheme was implemented in 1977-78, the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme by the Indian Government aims to financially support the education of children involved in occupations deemed ‘unclean.

The scheme extends assistance to specific groups, including scavengers, sweepers with traditional scavenging ties, tanners, and flayers.

Objectives of the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme

The primary objectives of the scheme are to provide financial aid to children whose parents are presently engaged in or were involved in manual scavenging, tanning, or flaying.

The focus is on facilitating pre-matric education and breaking barriers associated with these occupations.

Eligibility

To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must be Indian Nationals and fall into one of the following categories:

  • Currently engaged in manual scavenging or were involved up to or after 1.1.97 or the date when “The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993” came into force in their State/UT, whichever is earlier.
  • Presently engaged in Tanning and/or Flying.

Scholarship Amount

The scholarship amounts vary based on the student’s status as a hosteller (Class III to X) or a day scholar (Class I to X). Hostellers receive Rs. 700 per month for 10 months, and day scholars receive Rs. 110 per month for 10 months.

Additionally, an ad hoc grant of Rs. 750 per annum is provided to day scholars, while hostellers receive Rs. 1000 per annum.

Special provisions exist for students with disabilities among the target groups.

Also Read: Social Welfare Schemes in India- A Detailed Guide

Hostel Construction Scheme for Scheduled Cast Students

The hostel construction scheme is an initiative for the construction of hostels for boys and girls, including Primitive Tribal Groups. The main goal is to encourage organizations to build hostels for girls in middle schools, higher secondary schools, colleges, and universities.

This supports the broader vision of reducing drop-out rates among Scheduled cast students from the educational institutes. The cost-sharing for boys’ hostels is 60:40 between the Centre and the State, while for girls, it’s 90% from the Centre and 10% from the State.

Union Territories get 100% central assistance, and North Eastern and the Himalayan States get 90%.

Aim of the Scheme

This scheme’s goal is to provide hostel facilities to socially and educationally backward students, especially from rural areas, promoting secondary and higher education. The scheme supplements state efforts to create a conducive study environment for targeted groups, encouraging continuous education.

Funding Pattern of the Scheme

The funding pattern of this scheme is as per guidelines and is as follows:

  • For the construction of the boys’ hostel central governments provide 60%, and state governments provide 40% of the construction cost.
  • For the construction of the girls’ hostel central governments provide 90%, and state governments provide 10% of the construction cost.
  • Union Territories receive 100% Central Assistance.
  • North Eastern States receive 90% of construction costs from the central government.
  • Central Universities/Institutes receive 90% cost from the central Government, and 10% is borne by the institution for both Boys and Girls.
  • Grant released in 3 installments (50:45:5 ratio), with 5% after completion and occupation by OBC Boys and Girls.

Free Coaching Scheme for SC and OBC Students

Free coaching scheme for SC students was Initiated during the 6th Five Year Plan, the Free Coaching Scheme is aimed to provide educational support to Scheduled Castes (SCs). Over time, similar schemes for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Minorities were also in place.

To enhance effectiveness and support students better, the separate coaching schemes for SCs, OBCs, and Minorities were amalgamated. The combined scheme, known as ‘Coaching and Allied Assistance for Weaker Sections,’ commenced in September 2001.

The objective of Free Coaching for SC Students

The primary objective is to offer quality coaching to economically disadvantaged SCs and OBCs. This coaching prepares candidates for competitive exams, facilitating job opportunities in the Public/Private Sector or admission to prestigious technical and professional higher education institutions.

Courses offered Under Free Coaching

The coaching covers various examinations, including those conducted by UPSC, SSC, RRBs, State Public Service Commissions, Banking, Insurance, PSU exams, and premier entrance exams for Engineering (e.g., IIT-JEE), Medical (e.g., NEET), Management (e.g., CAT), Law (e.g., CLAT), and other disciplines decided by the concerned ministry.

It also includes eligibility tests/exams like SAT, GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL, and entrance exams for CPL courses/National Defence Academy and Combined Defence Services.

Eligibility Criteria for Students

  • Eligible students are those belonging to SCs and OBCs with a total family income of Rs. 8.00 lakh or less per annum from all sources.
  • Scheduled Cast/OBC candidates from Minority communities may apply under relevant schemes of the Ministry of Minority Affairs or State Governments.
  • Students must possess a valid Aadhar number and a bank account linked to it. If the student lacks an Aadhar number during application, the EID number can be submitted, but payment will be released only after obtaining the Aadhar Number.
  • Income certificates for self-employed parents/guardians should be from a Revenue Officer not below the rank of Tehsildar. Employed parents/guardians need income certificates from their employer and a consolidated certificate from a Revenue Officer, including any additional sources of income.

National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste Students

Among government schemes of scheduled caste community National Fellowship is one of the schemes. This scheme for Scheduled Caste Students, initiated in the financial year 2005-06, falls under the Central Government sponsored schemes.

This scheme aims to provide educational opportunities for Scheduled Caste students pursuing higher education leading to M.Phil/Ph.D degrees in Sciences, Humanities, and Social Science streams.

The National Scheduled Castes Finance & Development Corporation (NSFDC), a PSU under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is the implemented agency for this scheme. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India regulates and funds the scheme from 01-10-2022 through various credit schemes.

Fellowship Scheme Objectives

The scheme’s primary objective is to offer fellowships in the form of financial assistance to Scheduled Caste students for pursuing advanced studies leading to M.Phil/Ph.D in Science, Humanities, and Social Science disciplines.

The fellowship program provides 2000 new Fellowships annually, with 1500 for Humanities/Social Sciences and 500 for Science Stream Junior Research Fellows, who have qualified in the UGC NET/Joint CSIR UGC NET exams.

Eligibility for Fellowship Scheme

  • Fellowships are awarded to candidates pursuing regular and full-time M.Phil./Ph.D. courses in UGC (University Grants Commission) recognized Universities/Research Institutions.
  • Preference is given to Scheduled Castes candidates who have secured admission and qualified in the NET examination. Such candidates are required to join the fellowship within 3 months of the JRF (Junior Research Fellow) award letter issuance.
  • In the absence of sufficient candidates with secured admission, those who have not yet secured admission are selected based on merit in the NET examination. Such candidates are eligible for the fellowship, subject to admission in M.Phil/Ph.D in Universities/IITs/Institutions. A field capturing the current educational status is added to the application. Candidates who have cleared their postgraduate course or are in their final year are given preference and allowed up to one year from selection to join. Other students have a three-year joining period from the date of the award letter issuance.

Top Class Scholarship for SC Students

Top class scholarship scheme for SC students aims to promote education among the scheduled cast students by supporting them financially. This scheme supports SC student to continue their studies after the 12th class.

All institutions notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment are eligible to operate this scheme for the financial year 2021-2002 to 2025-2026. The award under this scheme for students will continue till they complete their courses, subject to the student’s performance.

Objectives of Top-Class Scholarship

The Top Class Scholarship for SC Students aims to recognize and promote quality education for scheduled castes students by providing full financial support. This scholarship covers SC students pursuing studies beyond the 12th class.

The scheme is operative in institutions notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the fiscal year 2021-22 to 2025-26. Once awarded, the scholarship continues until the completion of the course, contingent on the student’s ssatisfactory performance.

Eligibility

  • SC students with a total annual family income up to Rs. 8.00 lakh are eligible for the scholarship, provided they secure admission in a full-time prescribed course in notified institutions.
  • Income declaration for self-employed parents/guardians should be a certificate from a revenue officer not below the rank of Tehsildar.
  • Employed parents/guardians need an income certificate from their employer and a consolidated certificate from a revenue officer for any additional income.
  • Students who studied Class X in Central/State/Municipal Govt. or Govt. aided schools (except KVS schools) are automatically qualified, in this regard, students can upload a certificate.
  • If eligible students exceed available slots in an institution, scholarships are limited to the top students based on the inter-se merit list. In case of equal marks for the last slot, preference is given to the student with a lower family income.

Funding Pattern & Mode of Payment

  • The scholarship covers full tuition fees, non-refundable charges, and academic allowances for living expenses, books, stationery, and essential equipment. (with an annual limit of Rs. 2.00 lakh per student for private sector institutions and Rs. 3.72 lakhs per student for private sector flying clubs offering Commercial Pilot Training and Type Rating Courses).
  • An academic allowance of Rs. 86,000 in the first year and Rs. 41,000 in subsequent years. This financial aid aims to cover living expenses, books, stationery, and a computer/laptop from a reputable brand, including accessories like UPS and a printer.
  • The funding for this scheme is entirely provided by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, with a 100% financial basis.
  • Scholarship is payable immediately after a student secures admission and starts attending classes.
  • The Central Government, through the Direct Benefit Transfer mode, directly pays the tuition fees, non-refundable charges, and academic allowance to the students. Students must deposit the fee to the institute promptly, within a month of receiving the payment.

Impact of Scheduled Cast Schemes in India

The government schemes for scheduled caste communities impacted thousands of lives among SC across the country, these schemes provide financial assistance, job opportunities, educational opportunities, etc. for scheduled cast and scheduled tribes.

The implementation of schemes for scheduled cast has resulted in enhancements in education, job opportunities, education, financial assistance, etc. for SC/ST communities.

In India, approximately 16.6 percent of the population belongs to Scheduled Castes, while 8.6 percent are Scheduled Tribes, as per the Census of 2011. The implementation of schemes for scheduled cast and

The economic development of these communities aims to alleviate conditions of poverty and improve their living. Schemes started for SCs/STs by the Government of India aim to improve the lives of these communities and provide necessary resources.

Conclusion

The government schemes for scheduled caste community started by the GOI aims to benefit this community in several ways and improves their lives and living standard. These schemes provide opportunities for this community to fulfill their dreams of having a better life for themselves and their children.

These schemes help them to pursue their education, get jobs of their desire, provide necessary financial assistance, etc. There is a need to educate these communities about these schemes so that they can benefit from these schemes and live a better life.

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