Several Telangana students who travelled abroad for their higher education are stuck in various foreign countries, as the state government has not yet deposited the scholarship amount under the CM Overseas scholarship scheme. The scheme, meant for students from Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), BC (Backward Classes) and minority communities, promises to give a scholarship grant of up to Rs 20 lakh and charges for a one-way economy ticket and a visa.
“My 22-year-old son went abroad to pursue his higher education in the United States of America (USA). He had first applied to the UK, but when the visa didn’t come through, he applied for a university in the US and got in. The Rs 20 lakh promised by the Telangana government did not come through, so I sold an acre of my land for Rs 10 lakh and took a loan of Rs 10 lakh,” says Ratnam (name changed), an SC (Mala) farmer from Rangareddy district.
Ratnam’s story is similar to that of several others. Ravikanth*, a B Tech student from the BC community (Padmashali caste) from Mahabubnagar district, has been stuck in the US as the scholarship money hasn’t come through. Kannam Sunil, a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) worker in Telangana, has been in touch with several students, including Ravikanth, who are now facing uncertain futures as funds have not been dispersed.
“A lot of students haven’t received the amount on time and some students have received only a share of the amount. The current concern is that if the government doesn’t send the money, parents have to take loans. If they aren’t in a position to do even that, the students have to return without finishing their education,” says Sunil.
An official from the Minority Welfare Department dismisses the concerns. “The scholarship didn’t come through quickly enough owing to administrative delay. Funds take time to arrive as the government releases the allocated amount in increments. The students are also given the amount in two phases of Rs 10 lakh each. The money will be deposited, so this isn’t a real concern,” he says.
Out of 2,974 minority students who benefitted from the scheme since its inception in 2014-15, 250 are yet to receive their scholarship money in toto. In addition, 200 out of 953 Scheduled Caste (SC) students and 48 out of the 260 Scheduled Tribe (ST) students have not yet received the money.
Despite the government’s assurance that the scholarship money will come through, Ratnam voices a different concern. “My son is not studying at an Indian university. They could easily just put his admission on hold or cancel it because the fees haven’t been paid.”
The Overseas Scholarship scheme is named according to the social marker of the students in question. For BC students, it is the Mahatma Jyothiba Phule Overseas Vidya Nidhi, while for SC and ST students, it is Ambedkar Overseas Vidya Nidhi. Data from the Department shows that 250 students benefited from the scheme in 2022-23, which is far less, compared to previous years. In 2021-22, there were 499 beneficiaries, with 296 students beneficiaries in 2020-21, 491 students in 2019-2020 and 503 students in 2018-19.