UoP sop for daughters of HIV-hit mothers, prostitutes draw blank

Pune, December 4 The first university in the country to institute scholarships for daughters of HIV infected mothers, devadasis and prostitutes in September this year, the University of Pune has discovered that their commendable step has gone in vain. The university shot off letters inviting applications to 472 affiliated colleges but in the two months that have passed, not a single student from this category has responded.

From Indian Express.

Vice-chancellor Narendra Jadhav had announced 2,000 scholarships of Rs 5,000 each for girl students under six categories. These included rural background, economic weakness, social backwardness, academic merit and also, in a path-breaking move, those whose mothers may be HIV positive, devadasis or prostitutes.

Of this, about 600 scholarships were to be reserved for the last category. The scholarships were instituted under the Krantijyoti Savitrimata Phule Girl Student Scholarships scheme with Rs one crore set aside for the entire project.

“The whole idea was to encourage higher education of girls and this was a revolutionary step taken by the UoP. However, we are disappointed to note that the response has been very poor. Only a total of 550 applications have been received by us as against the 2,000 scholarships available and even amongst these not a single girl has applied under the HIV, devadasi or prostitute offspring category,’’ said S R Bhoye, Assistant Registrar, Board of College and University Development (BCUD) – a body that oversees all scholarships.

According to Dr Pandit Vidyasagar, director BCUD, the department has zeroed in on three possible causes for the lack of response. “The most probable reason seems to be that may be the message has not reached the students properly. Even though we personally gave the requisite information to all the principals and put up the application forms on our website, it seems not many students got to know of it. This also explains why out of the 472 colleges under us, the applications have come from only 57 of them,” pointed out Vidyasagar.

Another reason may be that the girls do not want to reveal their status as daughters of devadasis or HIV infected mothers, he said. The clause that all those receiving grants or scholarships from some other source would not be eligible for these scholarships may have hampered response, he said.

The BCUD has now sent the scholarship details to all the colleges once again, this time with a stern letter addressed to all the principals impressing on them the urgency of ensuring that all students are made aware of the scheme. “We have also relaxed the rule about barring students who are already getting some grants, on the basis of their economic backgrounds and academic merit,’’ he said. Now, the university has kept a new deadline – of December 15.

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