Written by SWaCH. 06/26/2014
Meritorious students must show the municipality that there is merit in a just society.
Every time we hear of a welfare scheme meant for the poor, we snigger and say, there is no justice for the middle class! The government is only interested in the poor. Is that really true? Or is it just another myth that we buy into, to justify our disdain and deaden our guilt. Let us examine the facts that can be easily verified from municipal records.
Pune, Oxford of the East, through its municipal councilors in 2007-2008, resolved that meritorious children at the X (SSC, ICSE, CBSE) and XII (HSC, ISC, CBSE) examinations would be rewarded from the municipal budget. The two rewards’ schemes named Bharatratna Maulana Abul Kalam AzadYojana and Lokshahir Anna Bhau Sathe Yojana, offer a sum of Rs 15000 and 25000 respectively, for students securing over 80% in class X and XII. Starting from 2.3 crores in the first year, last year alone the PMC spent Rs.15.3 crores on scholarships to meritorious students.
The same municipality that spent Rs.59.6 crores over the past 7 years on these 2 schemes, has no money for welfare benefits towards waste pickers and their children’s education. The PMC, as per a formal MOU, owes each SWaCH waste collector Rs.3500 in welfare benefits that it did not provide for the period 2008-2013. A recently tabled, comprehensive welfare proposal amounting to around 2.5 crores per annum, has not been cleared as the administration is uncertain it can cope with the financial implications.
Many children who receive the above scholarship amount come from privileged families that can afford good, formal education as well as tuition classes and support systems. Most children of wastepickers are first generation learners, who would perhaps drop out of school, if their core educational costs were not covered.
If you see the injustice in this, please sign the following petition:
I, the undersigned, urge the PMC to:
1. revoke the existing schemes offering cash rewards to meritorious students from privileged classes, and change the eligibility criteria to benefit marginalized children
2. pay the welfare benefits due towards education of waste-pickers’ children for the period 2008-2013, and to pass a comprehensive welfare benefit scheme for them for the future.
In the event that the scheme is continued, and I am eligible for it, I will apply, claim the money and donate it towards the education of wastepickers’ children.