Despite being surrounded by controversy – a scam worth Rs 63 crore was discovered by the then secretary (social justice, empowerment department) last year – the scholarship program Post-Matrix (PMSS) has seen a sharp increase in the number of students of the Caste Annex seeking its advantage. The numbers, in fact, this year were the highest in four years. The Center had completely stopped funding it in 2017-2018.

According to data obtained from the Ministry of Social Justice, 1,763,438 SC students benefited from the PMSS in 2020-21, compared to 2,04,783 in 2019-2020. In 2018-2019, the number of such students was 2 30 716. However, in 2021-2022, already 2.44 lakh students applied for this program. The registration portal for the program is open until March 31, 2022. Authorities expect around 2.50 lakh students to take advantage of the program this year. Free delivery cards have been issued to around 2.02 lakh students so far after review by three-member committees at the subdivision level.

“When the Center stopped funding this program completely in 2017-18, there wasn’t a lot of control. Several private colleges indulged in bogus admissions due to which the number of genuine SC students was much lower. Over the past two or three years, following a proper audit, several elements have been revised to ensure that only genuine SC students benefit from this program, ”said a senior department official, adding that even a cap fees had been introduced in private colleges.

“Previously, if the cost of a course in government colleges was Rs 20,000, private colleges would charge Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 for the same. Now there is no such disparity, ”he said.

The officer attributed the popularity of the program to the free card and the transfer of money to student accounts.

Varjit Kaur, chairman of the Jalandhar unit of the Punjab Students Union (PSU), and Mangaljit Pandori, the PSU press officer, argue that due to the revised curriculum there are now more brakes and counterweight.

Dr Gurpinder Singh Samra, Principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, who is also the President of the Association of Directors of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, points out that in their college this session, the number of students under PMSS reached over 1,300, which is higher than the 1,230 last year.

In the public colleges of Gurdaspur, Ropar, Fazilka and Faridkot, the number of SC students has registered an increase compared to previous years, said Ranbir Singh, president of PSU. “Now we are waiting for the government to release money into student accounts so that universities get the amount and publish the list numbers for this semester’s exams,” Samra said, adding that the Punjab government had insured to pay state government fees. 40 percent of the shares in two installments, but this money has not yet been released.

What is a freseship card?

The free delivery card was introduced into the revised PMSS scheme by the central government. Issued by state governments or the UT administration, the card allows a student eligible for a scholarship under this program to be admitted to any institution, without pre-payment of tuition and fees. board costs. This card should only be issued to those whose parents or guardians’ income from all sources does not exceed Rs 2.50 lakh per year during the last financial year.

What is the revised diet?

The Center revised this program – Dr BR Ambedkar SC PMSS – in October 2020 and it entered into force from the 2020-21 academic session. The detailed guidelines were released in March of this year, according to which there is a 60:40 sharing ratio between the Center and the States. The Center will release its share once the state has done so. As in 2020-2021, the total responsibility for the program was Rs 378 crore, of which Punjab first released its share of Rs 153.81 crore, and then the remaining Rs 224 crore was released by the Center.

Previously, this amount went into two accounts, as the tuition was credited to the college account and the maintenance allowance went to the student account. But now the full amount is credited to the student’s account and the student then has to pay the college tuition fees from their accounts.

Previously, the program was fully sponsored by the Center until 2017-2018. In April 2018, the central government declared that henceforth the state government and the administration of the UT would bear the responsibilities of this regime. The state can reimburse the amount if the state’s total claim exceeds the “liability commitment” of the terminal year, i.e. 2017-18 of the plan period.

Punjab still owes huge amounts to colleges

According to the Department of Social Justice, the balance of Rs 1,563.77 crore from private, assisted and government colleges in Punjab is pending for the state government from 2017-18 to 2019-2020. Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wrote to the Center that the state could not afford this responsibility of Rs 4.00 to Rs 5.00 crore per year and that the Center would have to reimburse the outstanding amount for three years. But the Punjab did not fulfill the condition of PMSS 2018 due to its annual liability in those three years (before the revised policy came into effect in 2020) was less than the ‘incurred liability’ of the final year.