In a move that is bound to trigger controversy, the Telangana government has reportedly stated that 'only' unmarried women were eligible to get an education in the state's welfare residential women's degree colleges.
This came two days after the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS) invited applications from "women (unmarried)" for admission in B.A/B.Com/B.Sc degree courses.
The applications were for the academic year 2017-18.
Writing for the Times of India, Roushan Ali reported that the state defended its decision to invite applications for unmarried women only.
Speaking to TOI, TSWREIS content manager B Venkat Raju said, "It has been done with a good intention to ensure other girls in the residential colleges do not get distracted because there is every possibility of husbands visiting wives.“
Meanwhile, the society's Secretary Dr RS Praveen Kumar told the newspaper, "We don't encourage married women, but we will not prevent them if they approach us for admission.The idea behind the move is that married women generally pursue education as day scholars. Our intention is neither to deny nor hurt any one's feelings."
The state's welfare colleges provide free education, shelter and food, and is aimed at the upliftment of the poor, especially poor women.
According to the TSWREIS website, "The Society has been working with the noble aim of providing quality education to the needy and deprived children on par with the other advantaged children. The TSWREIS has been catering to the dire educational needs of the marginalized children especially Scheduled Caste (SC) children hailing from the remote rural areas of Telangana."
While the state presently only has 23 such colleges, it plans to have 119 open this year, potentially harbouring 28,600 students.
The TOI report adds that 75% of the seats were reserved for SCs and the remaining 25% were for STs, Backward Classes and general category.
The last date to apply for the courses is March 26.