Chennai: The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, which finds itself in the midst of a controversy over a Rs 10.5 crore scholarship for students from EWS (Economically Weaker Sections), sponsored by the Power Grid Corporation of India, has clarified that the benefit is available to OBC as well as general category students.
The government-owned Power Grid Corporation of India has been under fire on social media from many who are terming the scholarship — aimed at aiding “meritorious B.Tech. students from economically weaker sections” — a “biased allocation”.
Criticising the scholarship for EWS students, DMK MP Dr Thamizhachi Thangapandian had said in a tweet: “Power Grid Corporation of India, while being a Public Sector Enterprise, has made an extremely biased allocation of funds at IIT-Madras. Rs.10.5 crore solely allocated to EWS Scholarship? What about the scholarship funds for SC/ST/OBC students?”
However, responding to criticism on social media, IIT-Madras Monday said: “The POWERGRID scholarship is for tuition fee reimbursement of all students whose family income is less than 8 lakhs per annum. This includes both OBC and General category students. All students belonging to SC/ST category are given 100% tuition fee waiver by the Government of India.”
“This scholarship programme helps in amplifying IIT Madras’ principle of being an inclusive institute for students from all economic sections.”
A section of the society that does not avail caste-based reservations meant for ST/SC/OBCs and has an annual family income of less than Rs 8 lakh — same as annual income limit for OBC eligibility — is considered a part of the EWS.
The government of India had, in January this year, submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court, conveying its decision to accept the recommendation of a government panel to retain the annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh for the EWS quota for NEET-PG admissions.
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‘Encouraging women in STEM’
On 7 May, the Power Grid Corporation of India — which comes under the Union Ministry of Power — contributed Rs 10.5 crore towards setting up a scholarship fund at IIT-Madras as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
IIT-Madras termed it a “one-of-its kind scholarship” with a “special focus on women students from economically weaker sections” aimed at encouraging women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
“This fund would support deserving students at IIT Madras, covering their tuition fees through merit-cum-means scholarships. This is the highest single contribution that IIT Madras has received for scholarships under CSR in the financial year 2021-22,” a statement from IIT-Madras read.
“We are grateful to Power Grid Corporation of India for this generous support of scholarships for economically weaker students. They are most deserving of this support, since it is by their sheer hard work that they have made it into this institution. Through this initiative, IIT-Madras, as an inclusive institution, is glad to enable students — especially girl students, who need financial support the most,” IIT-Madras Dean, Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, had said during an event to mark the occasion Saturday.
V.K. Singh, Director (Personnel), Power Grid Corporation of India, in his speech during the event, spoke about how students “need financial assistance” now more than ever, adding that the scholarship demonstrated the PSU’s commitment to education.
“POWERGRID believes that scholarships can be one of the most direct ways to give back to the community. Due to increasing educational costs, students need financial assistance more than ever. Our Scholarship scheme demonstrates POWERGRID’s commitment to education and to the future of upcoming generations. I believe that this scholarship will make a real, significant impact on the lives of the benefitted students,” Singh said.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
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