Centre’s scholarship: Manipur students in a fix due to ‘confusion’ over nodal officer

The Ishan Uday (NER) scholarship, especially for the North-East, was launched by the UGC in 2014-15.

Many meritorious students of Manipur, who had applied for the Ishan Uday (North-Eastern Region)-University Grants Commission scholarship 2019-20, are likely to be deprived of the grant owing to the absence of a state nodal officer.

Manipur education department officials said they were ‘unaware of the need for such an officer, as they didn’t know when this rule was introduced’.

The Ishan Uday (NER) was launched by the UGC in 2014-15. Under the scheme, 10,000 students from the Northeast with family income below Rs 4.5 lakh annually are entitled to a scholarship of Rs 5,400 to Rs 8,400 for four years. The selection is based on the students’ marks in Class 12 or equivalent exams.

On August 25, when the UGC released the selection list for 2019-20, many Manipur students were shocked to find their names missing. The students found out that their applications were pending with the office of the state nodal officer, who is responsible for completion of the revalidation process in case of mistakes in the form.

Ksh. Thoungamba, one such student, cleared his Class 12 examination securing 92.2 per cent. He is currently studying at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Manipur.

Thoungamba said he had provided the wrong IFSC code of the bank while submitting the application. “Students whose applications are withheld can still claim the scholarship after rectification and subsequent re-validation by the state nodal officer. But the details of the nodal officer are not available anywhere,” he said.

Similarly, almost all students of DM College, Imphal, did not get the scholarship. The DM authority informed them they are in touch with the state higher education department.

Education department officials are confused about the position of the nodal officer.

Th. Roben, OSD, Directorate of Higher Education, said the process of re-validation is new. “As per the guideline laid down by the UGC, the final stage of verification was to be done by the respective nodal officer of the colleges where the students are studying. As such, going by the earlier process, the concept of a state nodal officer did not arise,” Roben said.

The OSD said they had contacted the UGC, but were yet to get a response. “We are helpless till we can discuss the matter with the UGG and hammer out a solution,” he said.

With the re-validation period ending on October 31, parents and students are concerned. Applicants who made it to the selection list have started receiving their first instalment, they claimed.

“My classmate who in terms of marks secured much lower than me got selected and started getting the scholarship,” said Ksh Thoungamba.

Keisham Pradipkumar, whose daughter is one of the applicants in the withheld list, urged authorities to look into the matter urgently. “We ran from pillar to post but could not find the state nodal officer,” he said.

As per the guidelines of the scholarship, each state gets slots based on its population. If the slots for a state remain vacant, they are distributed equally among other states.

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