Maharashtra social justice minister, Rajkumar Badole, is surrounded by controversy as his daughter secured a scholarship to pursue a three-year Ph.D. at the University of Manchester in the UK. 29-year-old Shruti Badole has won a scholarship that is awarded by her father’s department.
Shruti Badole secured a scholarship under a scheme that was implemented by the Maharashtra government in 2003 and gives assistance to students from scheduled caste category whose financial circumstances don’t allow them to pursue higher studies in foreign countries. The government provides funds to those who have been able to secure admission for themselves in any of the top 300 colleges according to the QS World University Rankings.
As per the scheme, students whose family income is less than Rs. 6 lakh can apply for the scholarship but there is no income cap for those who have got admission in any of the top 100 universities.
But a row has been triggered ever since the daughter of the head of the department which grants the scholarship has got one. Rajkumar Badole asserts that he has no role to play in the selection process of students. The Indian Express quotes him saying,
I was not part of the selection process. I had already informed the CM that my daughter was applying for the scholarship and had recused myself. The CM had set up a separate committee under the chief secretary to select the beneficiaries and the committee took the decision. My daughter has been a student of IIT Chennai and has a right to apply for the scholarship.
Apart from her, the son of the ministry’s secretary Dinesh Waghmare is also one of the 35 students from the scheduled caste and neo-Buddhist category to have secured the scholarship by the government to study abroad. Waghmare’s son, Antariksh’s scholarship allows him to undertake a two-year masters course at the Pennsylvania State University. Have a look at what Waghmare had to say about his son getting the scholarship,
Those who have not got the benefit of the scheme have been alleging that the norms were changed to accommodate these children. However, the cap was raised to 6 lakh in 2015 itself. Moreover, for all those who got admission to the top 100 QS-ranked universities, the income limit was waived. The income limit of Rs 6 lakh was only for those who got admission in universities that were ranked between 101 to 300.
Both the social justice minister and the secretary have faced strong criticism ever since the news of their children securing government scholarships has been brought to light by media. And now, Rajkumar Badole’s daughter Shruti Badole has given up the scholarship and has issued a statement in which she has revealed how she has been a brilliant student all through and that her father had no role to play in her scholarship. Below is what Shruti said in her statement:
I completed my education from IIT, Madras. My father wasn’t a minister then. I completed my MSc from University of Sussex. I got admission and scholarship there purely on the basis of merit. My dream is to work in the field of Astro-Physics and I have climbed every step towards that only on the basis of merit. My father wasn’t even a minister then. I was selected again on merit in the top 26 Universities for studies in astrophysics. I had told my father that we won’t take loan for my studies as we are still repaying the loan taken for my brother’s studies. That is why I applied for state government scholarship. There were 3 scholarships to be awarded in the field of doctoral studies in Science, for which only 2 applications were received. How could I then have snatched someone else’s right? If you get admission in any of the top 100 Universities, then there is no income criterion to apply. Now if I fit the criterion, is it my fault? All my education has been completely on the basis of merit. So if I am a minister’s daughter, does that make me less meritorious? If my scholarship is getting embroiled in a controversy only because my father is a minister, I denounce it!