Ending a major controversy surrounding the local and non-local issue, Telangana state government has decided to follow the existing norms to determine the domicile status of students studying in Hyderabad and elsewhere in the state for the purpose of granting scholarships.
It may be recalled that soon after forming the government on June, 2, 2014, coinciding with the state bifurcation, the Telangana government headed by chief minister K Chandra Shekhara Rao said it would extend scholarships to only those students whose parents had their roots in Telangana prior to 1956 when the combined state of Andhra Pradesh was formed.
The government had introduced a new scheme called FAST (Financial Assistance to Students of Telangana) based on this new definition while attracting a widespread criticism as it was widely perceived as a move aimed against people migrated to the city from coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions.
Briefing the media on decisions taken at a lengthy cabinet meeting yesterday, chief minister Rao said the government has decided to drop the idea of FAST and would continue with the existing scheme on the basis of Article 371(D), a special enabling provision of the Indian Constitution which was incorporated to ensure equitable opportunities for people of different regions of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh.
Any person studied in a local educational institution for four consecutive years prior to 10 th class is entitled for college seats and government jobs under the local quota as per the provisions of Article 371(D).
Student scholarships became a very big flagship programme of the then chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy after his government had introduced a fee-reimbursement scheme for students joining the professional courses including engineering and medicine.
The scheme also became the single most reason for survival of over 800 engineering colleges having around 3 lakh seats in the undivided state as more number of students were able to enter these colleges because the government was paying their entire tuition fee on their behalf.
The funding requirement for this open-ended programme grew manifold and reached almost Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 5,000-crore level before the undvided state’s last chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy imposed an eligibility criteria in addition to the financial status for availing the scholarship.
Telangana government had barred as many as 174 engineering colleges out of around 400 engineering colleges operating in the state, for not having the basic infrastructure in addition to redefining the local status, leading to a sudden fall in the intake of students to a level of 50,000-60,000 in colleges operating in Telangana.
Some industry experts termed this as a setback particularly for the growth of the software industry in Hyderabad as this number, according to them, will only be sufficient to fill the vacancies arise due to attrition. Little over 3 lakh IT professionals are working in various software companies in Hyderabad city and the proliferation of engineering colleges in the undivided state was one of the important reasons for them to set up and expand their operations here.
Meanwhile, the state cabinet has also decided to release the remaining Rs 862 crore out of Rs 1,650-crore scholarship dues inherited from the undivided state to the engineering colleges, in a clear evidence that the government had understood the adverse impact of its earlier stand on the whole issue.