Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda launched a web portal on Wednesday to streamline and expedite the process of releasing scholarship grants directly into bank accounts of beneficiary students. The Tribal Affairs Ministry hopes that the "DBT Tribal" portal, where states can upload data related to beneficiaries, raise queries and give feedback, will reduce the chances of duplication of beneficiary and manipulation.
The ministry has been running various schemes to bridge the gap between Scheduled Tribe (ST) and general category students. The two main scholarship schemes -- pre-matric and post-matric -- are being implemented through states.
For higher education, the Centre runs "Top Class Education For ST Students" scheme in which 246 prestigious institutions, such as IITs and IIMs, participate. Around 1,000 students avail benefits under the scheme every year. For the Mphil and PhD programmes, there is a national fellowship scheme for 750 beneficiaries.
The government also runs a scholarship scheme for tribal students willing to pursue higher studies overseas. Thirty students can avail benefit under the scheme every year. Under these five schemes, 1.58 crore beneficiaries received scholarships worth Rs 7,900 crore across 31 states and Union territories in the past five years, officials said.
The states are responsible for the identification and verification of beneficiaries and timely disbursement of scholarships. Some do it manually, while others have their own direct benefit transfer portals. "Before this portal, there was no established mechanism for states to share data with us. Every state had a different platform and data structure. A few states had been providing data through USBs, CDs, and email, etc.," Naval Jit Kapoor, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, said.
Now all states and Union territories will be able to upload data on the ministry's portal. "Earlier, the ministry would not get beneficiary data for monitoring purposes as the entire system worked in manual mode. The academic year and the financial never matched. In some cases, funds for scholarships awarded in 2016-17 were being disbursed in 2018-19," he said.
The ministry has come up with a 29-column data sharing format, related to personal and location details of beneficiaries, which will reduce the chances of duplication as it is linked with Aadhaar and the Public Financial Management System. "We can now monitor who are receiving scholarship benefits in which state, district, block or school and how many grievances have been received and addressed," the official said.
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