Fact Checking Government claims on Scholarship to Persons with Disability

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An infographic published by the government on the 48-month portal makes claims regarding scholarship to persons with disability. Here is a fact check of these claims.

An infographic published by the government on the 48-month portal makes claims regarding the government’s commitment to social justice. Titled as Shikshit Bharat, Sakham Bharat, the infographic mentions issue of inclusive education for the empowerment of ‘Divyangs’ or the persons with disability. There are four claims made by the government and here is a fact check of these claims.

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Claim: Scholarship scheme to pursue Technical Education
The first claim by the government is that, scholarship scheme was launched in 2014 to provide scholarship to pursue technical education. The compendium of all the schemes of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has the information on pre-matric & post-matric scholarships. There is no mention of a specific scholarship scheme for those who wish to pursue technical education.

Scholarships were being provided for technical education by NHFDC (The National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation). The NHFDC which is under the ‘Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities’ functions as an apex institution for extending financial support for education, employment, and entrepreneurship of the persons with disabilities through state channelizing agencies nominated by the state governments.  NHFDC was set up in 1997  as a not for profit company.

The scholarship scheme implemented by the NHFDC has been there for quite some time and was not launched in 2014. The NHFDC implements the Scholarship Scheme (Trust Fund) and Scholarship Scheme (National Fund), for award of scholarship to students with disabilities pursuing Higher and Technical education. This scheme was there even during the UPA government.  There were 2000 fresh beneficiaries of this scheme in 2013-14 and a similar number in 2017-18. Under this scheme, complete tuition fee was provided in case of government institutions and a similar amount for private institutions. The monthly maintenance amount was at least Rs 2500 per month and other allowances for books/stationery were also provided. As per information on the NHFDC website, this scheme was discontinued in December 2017.

However, the NDA government launched a ‘Saksham Scholarship’ scheme in November 2014 under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to support 1000 differently abled students  to pursue technical education in a year. The amount of scholarship is tuition Fee of Rs 30,000 or at actual, whichever is less and Rs. 2000 per month for 10 months as incidental charges each year. While it is true that the NDA government launched a new scheme for scholarships to the disabled, they have closed down an earlier scheme which was catering to a greater number of beneficiaries with a greater amount of tuition fee & maintenance amount.

Claim 1: Scholarship scheme has been launched in 2014 to provide scholarship to pursue technical education

Fact: The scholarship scheme for disabled people to pursue technical education existed even during the UPA. The NDA government only closed down the existing scheme and launched a new scheme ‘SAKSHAM’ under the MHRD, reducing the number of beneficiaries and the amount of scholarship. Hence the claim is MISLEADING.

Claim 2: 1000 scholarships per annum are available

Fact: The scholarship scheme for disabled people to pursue technical education existed even during the UPA. The NDA government only closed down the existing scheme and launched a new scheme ‘SAKSHAM’ under the MHRD. The new scheme is providing 1000 scholarships per annum. But it has to be noted that this number is less than the number of beneficiaries and the amount of scholarship provided under the old scheme. Hence the claim is MISLEADING.

Claim 3: 30,000 rupees is provided towards tuition fee and 20,000 as contingency allowance.

Fact:  The ‘Saksham’ scheme under the MHRD provides tuition Fee of Rs 30,000 or at actual, whichever is less and Rs. 2000 per month for 10 months as incidental charges each year. However it has to be noted that this amount is less than what was provided under the old scheme. Hence the claim is MISLEADING.

Claim: Establishment of Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC)
The fourth claim is that Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) was established. Indian Sign Language Research and training Center (ISLRTC) is an autonomous organization under the administrative and financial control of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.

A brief history on the ISLRTC website tells us that the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) acknowledged that the needs of people with hearing disabilities had been relatively neglected and envisaged the development of a sign language research and training center, to promote and develop sign language and training of teachers and interpreters. The Finance Minister announced the setting up of ISLRTC in the Budget speech of 2010-11. In 2011, the government announced the establishment of the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Center (ISLRTC) as an autonomous center of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Delhi. In 2013, the center at IGNOU was closed.

In April 2015, after the NDA came to power, the government decided to integrate ISLRTC with the regional center of the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Hearing Handicapped (AYJNIHH) at Delhi. However, the Deaf community protested this decision due to the different perspectives and goals of ISLRTC and AYJNIHH.

The protests and meetings with the ministers resulted in the Union Cabinet approving the setting up of ISLRTC as an independent society. An order to this effect was issued on 28th September, 2015, leading to the establishment of ISLRTC.

Claim: Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) established.

Fact: ISLRTC was first established as an autonomous center in IGNOU in 2011 which was later closed down. It was established as an independent society in  2015 by the current government. Hence, the claim is only PARTLY TRUE.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here.

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