Kolkata, Feb 6: The West Bengal government has received over 40 lakh applications in less than a year under "Aikyashree" a new scheme that provides scholarships to students of minority communities in the state, a senior official said on Thursday.
The decision to launch the scheme was taken by the TMC government last year, after over 16 lakh students failed to avail a scholarship granted by the Centre, he said.
"A total of 32 lakh applications were sent to the Centre by the students of minority communities, but more than half were rejected. The reason could be that many did not fulfill the norm of securing at least 50 percent marks in the previous exam, as set by the Union government.
"That's why the state government came up with Aikyashree," the official stated, adding that he initiative would add an extra burden of Rs 800 crore on the exchequer.
Both the Centre and the state government-run scholarship schemes for students of Classes 1 to 10 (Pre- Matric), and Class 11 till post-graduation (Post-matric).
Under the Centre's scheme, a student gets a minimum of Rs 1,200 annually, while the state offers a minimum scholarship of Rs 1,100 per year.
"We carried out an intensive campaigning drive on 'Aikyashree' in the districts. During these campaigns, we found that people took great interest in the scheme, primarily because of its simplicity. There is no complex criterion involved in 'Aikyashree'," the senior official said.
Unlike the central scheme, which specifies that the income of a family cannot exceed Rs 2 lakh, the state initiative does not include any such criterion, he said.