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Massive cut in funds for madrasas; merit-cum means scholarship

New Delhi: The Union budget 2023 witnessed an 87% cut in the merit-cum means scholarship meant for professional and technical courses for students from minority communities with just Rs 44 crore allocated to it.

In the previous budget, Rs 365 crore had been earmarked for the scholarship scheme.

Funds allotted for madrasas and minority education also reduced from Rs 160 crore in 2022-2023 in the budget to Rs 10 crore in 2023-24 which is a massive cut of 93%.

The Union Budget 2023 also saw a reduction of Rs 992 crores for the pre-matric scholarship for minorities under the ministry of minority affairs, with Rs 1,425 crore allotted in 2022–23. The eligibility requirements were changed last year to bar kids in levels lower than Class 9. In her budget speech, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasised inclusivity but did not mention the inclusion of religious minorities.

However, from Rs 550 crore in the 2022–23 budget to Rs 1,065 crore, the post–matric scholarship for minorities has seen a notable growth of 106%.

The Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) programme will no longer be offered, and the pre-matriculation scholarship programme for members of underprivileged and minority communities will only be available to students in classes 9 and 10. The move made by the Narendra Modi government immediately sparked outrage among minority-community students, scholars, and professors.