After announcing the farm loan waiver, the state government is now looking at waiving education loans taken by students belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities to pursue higher education.
As a first step, the state department of social welfare has sought district-wise details of loans taken by the students of these two communities from banks, including nationalised banks. A letter was issued by the commissioner for state department of social welfare to all the district joint directors and deputy directors seeking the details.
This communication has been issued following a request made by the state president of Praja Parivartana Vedike to the state government to waive education loans of the SC/ST students. This has been mentioned in the letter too.
According to department officials, currently there is no data available with them about how many students have taken loans for their higher education.
“As there is direction from the government to submit details of the number of students who have taken loans from the banks including nationalised banks, we have issued a circular asking district-level officers to submit the details,” said a senior official of the department.
However, the state social welfare minister said that there was no such proposal before them. As per the circular and reminder communication issued on October 4, the district-level officers have to submit details of students’ names along with the loan amounts taken by each student, the year the loan was taken in, and what course the student is studying.
Officials said that though the details were asked in March, they have not received information from any of the districts. “This is delaying in submitting a report to the state government, and following the delay by district authorities we have issued a reminder circular recently,” they add.
Meanwhile, objections have been raised against this move to consider only certain community students for loan waiver.
“While waiving farmers’ loans, they did not look at particular communities. Then why are they looking at students from specific communities for education loan waiver?” questioned a senior faculty member working at a government science college in Bengaluru.
Even students are looking at it as discrimination. “I took a loan to pursue my engineering course as my parents are not financially stable, and now government is planning to consider only those students belonging to SC/ST communities for loan waiver. This is injustice,” said Keertana, an engineering student.
Academics feel this creates discrimination among students within college campuses and if the government really wants to waive student loans, then it should be done for everyone, they said.
Social welfare minister Priyank Kharge told The New Indian Express, “There is no such proposal before the government and I need to check with what intention the commissioner has issued such a circular.”