The daughter of a Maharashtra minister has said she would not accept a state government scholarship for studying abroad, after a controversy erupted over the issue.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sought an explanation from Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole following reports that his daughter Shruti’s name figured on the list of beneficiaries of government scholarship for pursuing higher education abroad, possibly over conflict of interest.
The Social Justice Department gives foreign education scholarship to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students.
The names of Shruti and sons of two senior bureaucrats in this year’s list of recipients triggered a controversy given their privileged backgrounds, though technically they fulfilled the criteria.
Shruti, a graduate from IIT-Madras, defended her decision to seek scholarship, but added she would not accept it now.
“The course I am pursuing at the University of Manchester (UK) does not have any scholarship. Hence I decided to apply for scholarship offered by the government. Is it my fault that I happened to be minister’s daughter?” she said.
Her father had recused himself from the selection process, she claimed.
“The state administration itself had come up with a government resolution in 2015 allowing SC/ST students from any income background to apply for state scholarship, provided the applying university is among the top 100 varsities as per QS World University Rankings.
“No university of India features even in top 200 varsities list of the same group. Is it my fault that I got selected for such university?” she asked.
Shruti said she had decided against taking education loan as her family was paying installments for having taken such a loan for her brother.
She also said that the government sponsors three students pursuing PhD in science as per its quota, and including her own, only two applications were received this year. “Why am I targeted in the name of denying an opportunity for a more deserving student”, she asked, and added she has now decided not to accept the scholarship.
Meanwhile, minister Badole and the two bureaucrats whose sons are among the beneficiaries said in an official statement that the selection was based on merit and they played no role in it.
Apart from Shruti Badole, the list of 35 beneficiaries for the scholarship this year features Sameer Dayanand Meshram and Antariksh Dinesh Waghmare, both children of senior government officials.