Corporation says grant has been reduced due to COVID-19 situation and new applications will not be invited
With the Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation (KMDC) abruptly stopping student loan renewals under the Arivu scheme, thousands of students from the minority communities across the State are forced to drop out of higher education institutions. The stated reason is the reduced grants to the corporation due to the epidemic.
Several students from across the State have written to the Department of Minorities Welfare complaining against the decision of the State-run corporation to discontinue the scheme. Copies of the letter are available with The Hindu.
Some students have also begun an online campaign, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Minister for Minority Welfare Shashikala Jolle.
“I am being forced to drop out of MBBS course, as I am unable to pay fees,’’ said Mohammad Mustafa, a student from Belagavi who is studying medicine in a college in Udupi. I joined the course after assistance came from KMDC. It helped me pay my fees in the first year of MBBS. But the KMDC stopped releasing loan instalments two semesters ago and I am contemplating dropping out of college,’’ he said.
“It is obvious, from the rules of the scheme, that each beneficiary is a meritorious student who has excelled in his studies. Such students can join professional and other colleges only due to the kind and generous gesture of the State government. But due to the abrupt reduction of funds, the beneficiaries are on the streets. Most of them are constrained to drop out of college and take up menial jobs,’’ Mr Mustafa said.
This is not a solitary case, however. Students of various minority communities are suffering due to the non-renewal of education loans and non-sanctioning of new education loans. They have written several letters to the KMDC and the Department of Minority Welfare seeking revival of the scheme.
In letters to the Managing Director, KMDC, and the Secretary, Department of Minority Welfare, Haj and Waqf, the students said that in the name of modification, the KMDC had stopped releasing further instalment of education loans. It had also stopped accepting new applications, they added.
The KMDC website says that under the Arivu Education Loan Scheme, only renewal applications already submitted will be considered for sanction during 2021-22, as the grant has been reduced due to COVID-19 situation and new applications will not be invited.
“However, despite this assurance, the State government has not renewed loans since 2019. This is such a grave problem that several thousands of bright students will be forced to drop out of college as they are unable to repay loans. They will also be left with a burden of huge loans, which they will not be able to repay even after working all their lives,’’ said a letter from a student.
Joshua Johnson, a student from Bidar, said that his application was not processed despite he submitted it in 2017. “The corporation has also stopped receiving new applications, shattering the dreams of innumerable meritorious students. This is not acceptable in a welfare State,’’ the engineering student said.
He said that between 30,000 students and 50,000 students have been affected by this decision. “We request the KMDC to protect the future of these students by sending them back to college,’’ he said.
KMDC is under the legal obligation of continuing the scheme it has started. It is an established tenet of a welfare society that any welfare scheme or project shall not be modified to the disadvantage of the beneficiaries. “We are, therefore, exploring legal challenge,’’ Mr Johnson said.
“KMDC is part of State as defined in Article 12 of the Constitution. Therefore, the corporation has deprived the citizens of their rights with its move. The KMDC, and by implication, the State government, is bound to protect the interests of the minority community. A conservative estimate is that there are nearly 50,000 beneficiaries in the State. This means that the future of so many poor families is at stake. We urge you to resume the scheme in its original format and assist the youth from minority communities to get educated and become part of the process of nation building,’’ another letter from a female student from Ballari said.
Arivu educational loan support scheme was started in 2014-15 to help meritorious students from various minority communities get quality education in professional and other colleges.
As per the scheme, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh and Parsi students are eligible for benefits. Loans of up to ₹5 lakh can be sanctioned with the applicant paying 10% of the loan amount along with a 2% fee for grant.