Student bodies call Union Budget “anti-student”

The Union Budget 2021 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has invited criticism from several organisations and bodies including students’ organisations.

The budgets for scholarship schemes this year for the minority communities has decreased and for the OBC post matric scholarship has been reduced by Rs 115 crore. The Budget’s overall provisions for educational empowerment of minority communities has dropped from Rs 2530 crore to Rs 2381 crore.

The student bodies have condemned this low budget allocation in centrally funded scholarship schemes.

Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) in a press statement noted that “there is hardly any increase in scholarships and fellowships which signals the continuing trend of deliberate mechanism to stifle accessibility.”

SIO observed that the annual outlay for the Ministry of Education has marked a sharp decline from Rs.99331 crores in the last year’s budget to Rs. 93225 crores (from 3.26% to 2.68% of overall expenditure), which is appalling “at a time when we need to exponentially increase our spending to realise the potential of a millennial nation.”

The organisation alleged that instead of providing the large population of jobless youth in the country with some relief, “the government continues its march towards full-scale privatization, under the garb of divestment.”

Nihal Kidiyoor, Secretary of SIO pointed out that the Union Budget has turned out to be highly disappointing as the overt privatization in the guise of divestment can have a visible impact on Educational sector and the idea of welfare state.

“With rising unemployment and recession, no outline for jobs and employment sends a clear direction on where the governments priority and focus is,” he added.

N Sai Balaji, former President, Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU) and All India Students Association (AISA) leader wrote on Twitter, “Anything for students and youth of this country in Budget 2021? Anything on jobs and raising employment opportunities in Budget 2021? Anything on increasing budget on education, scholarships and assistance to students in Budget 2021? NOTHING!”

National Students Union of India (NSUI), in a statement said that the Union Budget 2021-22 has “failed the expectations of the students.”

“Narendra Modi government only wants to make few corporates richer. Pandemic hit sectors including employment generation and education have been failed once again by Finance Minister’s callousness towards our youngsters. Even Agriculture which has been the only well performing sector in 2020 has got measly 2% hike. A total failure on all fronts,” NSUI leader and Punjab state president Akshay Sharma said.

“For a year following a pandemic and an as yet open-ended lock-down of educational institutions, one had expected a serious hike in the allocation to the education sector. Unfortunately, the FM has announced a sharp decline, from an already abysmal level of spending, on education in the 21-22 Union Budget,” Students’ Federation of India (SFI) national committee said in an official note.

Meanwhile, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) students outfit of Hindu militant group RSS welcomed the Budget.

“Post-pandemic Union Budget geared towards actualising the goal of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and fulfilment of ABVP’s demand regarding post-matric scholarships for SC students a welcome step,” it said.