With the State Government still grappling with political oddities within its clan in the post-election scenario, chances are remote that in the days to come it will be able to ensure better delivery of services to the citizens or enhance effectiveness, transparency and accountability in the departments. At least for now, this appears to be the situation prevailing in the state. In the present phase of uncertainty, the greatest casualty is likely to be particularly in terms of interface with the poor segments of society. In its Social Welfare Department, which caters to a plethora of pension and scholarship schemes, the left hand does not seem to know what the right is doing. In spite of all the tall claims, the department’s track record has shown dismal performance as a result of which there is no improvement in targeting and penetration of various departmental schemes for the BPL segments of society.
For instance, the ambitious BPL Girl Students Scholarship Scheme to encourage imparting of higher and vocational education to general category poor girl students is just one of the many schemes that appear to be dying a slow death. The scholarship scheme to encourage higher, professional and technical education to such girl students is suffering due to the negligent and lackadaisical attitude of the department. It is chiefly due to inadequate publicity of the scheme that only a small number of girls or none at all are selected under the scheme, even though funds are made available every year under the head. If reports are to be believed, not even one girl student was selected last year. As a result, a major portion of funds are left unutilised every year. This amount is utilised by the department for other purposes.
Last year, only Tehri, Uttarkashi, Haridwar and Almora evinced interest in the scheme, under which general category BPL girl students studying for a degree or diploma in medicine or engineering get Rs 425 (upon staying in a hostel) and Rs 190 on studying at home, every month. Likewise, a hosteller studying for a degree or a diploma in a polytechnic or MBA gets Rs 290 and the one studying while living at home gets Rs 190, every month.
Similarly, the Education Cooperation Scheme, operationalised under the Jan Shree Insurance Scheme for BPL families, is not being able to gather any momentum. Under the scheme, there is a provision to grant scholarship of Rs 100 per month from class 9 to 12 to two girl students belonging to more than six lakh insured families in the state. But they, too, are unable to get the benefit.
The various scholarship schemes for BPL girl students have become victim to a lackadaisical attitude on the part of the department’s functionaries. In view of the importance of these schemes for uplift of girls’ education, the State Government should conduct a thorough review of the matter and initiate effective steps so that the benefits are passed on to more of these girl students. The situation cannot be allowed to linger any further.