Saturday, November 05, 2005

CBSE, again!

Well, this seond move by CBSE is also interesting. It has instituted a scholarship scheme for its 1050 top students. There is quite a bit of fine print there, and therein lies the rub:

... the CBSE said a total of 500 scholarships of Rs. 1,000 each per month would be awarded for four years to candidates pursuing courses in medicine or engineering in the institutes participating in the CBSE conducted AIPMT/ AIEEE examinations. In addition, 550 scholarships of Rs. 500 per month will also be awarded for three years to candidates pursuing non-professional courses in Central or State government universities.

Also, some 50 of these scholarships are reserved for the single-girl-child students.

While I welcome the goals of this scheme (encouraging the brightest to study further by reducing some of the financial burden), I want to raise some questions:

  • First, in what way are this scheme's goals different from the National Talent Search Exam, through which students get a bigger scholarship? If there is no difference, can't we simply expand the NTSE program?
  • Why this bias towards engineering and medicine, and away from other endeavours including sciences - natural and social, and humanities? Should the government be playing favourites? When the society at large has screwed up notions about which courses are 'desirable' (Charu has a nice post on this), should the government be reinforcing those biases? To my knowledge, the NTSE scholarship does not differentiate among disciplines [correct me if I am wrong here].
  • Why is the money so little? It won't even cover tuition in many colleges. If you want any award to be meaningful, make it truly meaningful, not just symbolic. From this point of view too, NTSE is better.
  • Finally, why stop at bachelors' program? If these top students continue to perform at some pre-defined level (say, 90 percentile and above) in their college/university, shouldn't they be assured of an enhanced scholarship for higher studies?

Now, Prof. C.N.R. Rao is not just a top scientist, but he is also the Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister. For quite a while, he has been bemoaning the fact that the top students choose to go to fields other than natural sciences. Well, I just find it interesting that one arm of the government (CBSE) has chosen to encourage the very trend that is opposed by the PM's Scientific Advisor.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Ooops.. NTSE is not in that great health. :-(

    1. I get ~4.5k per annum (only) for my undergrad in the NTSE scheme. So .. this is much lesser than the CBSE scheme.

    2. NTSE has a 'reverse-bias'. Scholarship upto PhD is only for Sciences,Humanities,Social Sciences. For Eng & Medicine, it is only upto the second degree.( long as u r getting the scholarship, the rates are the same for all streams.

    3. The number that we are talking about in the CBSE case is ~500. KVPY has scholarships for science students..but the number is much lesser. It is based on projects/olympiad performance etc. And KVPY pays ~3k per annum. So, if the kvpy scheme is expanded ..cbse+kvpy will cover the science+eng at the undergrad level.

    4.As reg NTS, I think it is good that there are schemes that choose students at different levels. NTS is in 10th std. cbse, kvpy are in 12th std or higher.

    5. As reg the amount of money given.. I am not sure as to why they keep it much below the tution payable by the students. (except for kvpy)

  2. Abi said...

    Oops, Aswin! Thanks for that very quick education about the present-day NTS. Is it fair to say that the glamour attached to it is gone now?

    We used to envy some of my friends on NTS scholarship. I know now that things are not really what they used to be.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Yup.. NTS is not the best of schemes out there if u look at the monetary value. KVPY is a much better scheme.

  4. Abi said...

    Thanks Aswin, for updating me on the scholarship scene!