Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani has promised a complete tuition fee waiver for students from backward classes, and those who are physically challenged, at the country's top technology institutes, according to the Times of India.
"Besides a complete fee waiver for these students, those with a family income of less than Rs 5 lakh will be given a 66% concession in the fees," Irani, who was in Surat to participate in an event to mark the Bharatiya Janata Party's Foundation Day, told TOI.
A recent government survey adjudged the IIT, Madras as the country's top technology institute, followed by IIT Mumbai and IIT Kharagpur. Currently, the 23 branches of IITs in the country have 15%, 7.5% and 27% of seats reserved for SC, ST and OBC candidates.
With a Supreme Court ruling, OBCs are entitled to an additional 27 per cent of seats in state-funded educational institutions, pushing the total caste-based educational quota in the country to 49.5 percent, while 22.5 percent of government jobs and places in state-funded educational institutions is allocated to the Scheduled Castes, who make up about 25 percent of India's population.
An IIT panel last month approved a proposal for a three-fold hike in annual fees in IITs. Another key recommendation of the Standing Committee of IIT Council (SCIC) was that the proposed new entrance examination, conducted by National Authority of Test (NAT), be held from 2017 onwards.
If the recommendations of the SCIC are accepted, the fees of foreign students would be raised from the current annual USD 4000 to USD 10,000. The committee has also recommended that every student be provided educational loans at an interest-free basis and without collateral under the Vidyalakshmi scheme.
Irani's announcement did not go down well with many on Twitter.
SC/STs, Dalits, disabled to get 100% fee waiver at IITs - @smritiirani A fantastic way to kill the only brand, we've crtd snce 1947.— Rajat (@think_rajat) April 7, 2016
I am all for fee waivers in IITs, but instead of basing this on s student's caste, govt should give it to financially challenged kids— Ritika Tiwari (@indianscrewup) April 7, 2016
Inputs from agencies.
Also on HuffPost: