Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 28th August 2023




Today Topics List:

  1. Welfare schemes for Minorities
  2. Echolocation
  3. Chandrayaan – 3 and its Findings



Welfare schemes for Minorities:


  • Centre has in the past few years discontinued two key educational schemes for religious minorities, narrowed the scope of another and gradually cut down on the expenditure incurred on multiple programmes of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. 

Religious Minorities:

  • India is home to over 30 crore (20%) people from religious minority communities.
  • These include six religions notified under section 2(C ) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • Muslims among Minorities:
  • Among the Muslims make up the largest religious minority group but face challenges in various sectors.
    • Their participation in salaried jobs is low and many are engaged in informal sector.
    • Informal sector, characterised by low wages, weak social security and poor working conditions.
  • Sachar Committee (2006), concluded that Muslim minority was neglected in almost all dimensions of development.
    • The report stated that “Muslims rank somewhat above SC/ST but below Hindu OBCs.
  • A New ministry for Minority affairs was accepted in 2006

Welfare Schemes for Minorities – Current status.

  • Over the Past 20 years, central government has implemented roughly 10 schemes to provide educational empowerment to religious minorities.

Name of the Scheme

Description & Objectives

Current Status

Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme,

One of the first central sector programmes implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the pre-matric scholarship was initially awarded to minority students from class 1 to 10 and ranged between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,700 for each selected candidate.

30% of the scholarships were earmarked for girls


This scheme has now been discontinued for classes 1 to 8.


While cancelling, Government has said RTE covered compulsory education up to class 8 for all students


This led to slash of funds for the scholarship by over Rs.900 crores in Budget 2023-24 from Rs.1425 crore to Rs.433 crore.


Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme

The programme was for students of class 11 and above (till Ph.D.). It aimed to give minority students access to quality higher education, with a scholarship ranging between Rs 2,300 and Rs 15,000.


 Like the pre-matric, 30% of the post-matric scheme was also earmarked for girls.

The funds for the post-matric scheme increased from Rs 515 crore to Rs 1,065 crore this fiscal year.

Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship Scheme

Launched in 2008, this scheme targeted professional and technical courses at undergraduate and post-graduate levels, with 30% earmarked for girl students. 


Eligible candidates in any of the 85 institutes listed under the scheme are reimbursed full course fees, while those in other institutions are reimbursed course fees worth Rs 20,000 per annum


It also includes an annual maintenance allowance of Rs.5,000 for day scholars and Rs. 10,000 for hostellers. 

The scholarship scheme saw a major reduction in funds in 2023-24, with a dip of Rs 321 crore in spending over last year.It was allotted Rs 44 crore this year, while last year’s allotment was Rs 365 crore.

Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) 

The scheme provided financial assistance for five years to research scholars pursuing M.Phil and Ph.D. from institutions recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC). 


Under the scheme, junior research fellows (JRF) received a grant of Rs 31,000 for the first two years while senior research fellows (SRF) got Rs 35,000 per month for the remaining tenure. 

 The MANF benefitted over 6,700 candidates between 2014-15 and 2021-22, with Rs 738.85 crore paid before it was cancelled in 2022.


The move led to student protests across the country


Government, meanwhile, reasoned that the scheme was scrapped because it overlapped with other programmes


The scheme was launched to provide better opportunities for higher education abroad, providing an interest subsidy on education loans for overseas studies to students belonging to economically weaker sections of minority communities.

The interest subsidy scheme was discontinued from 2022-23. The scheme benefitted 20,365 beneficiaries since its inception as part of the 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities in 2006.

Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship

The scholarship was for meritorious girls for higher secondary education and was provided by the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF).

The scholarship had zero allocation this year. 

Naya Savera

The Ministry launched a separate programme to provide free coaching to minority students for entrance to technical and professional courses and competitive examinations. 


The Naya Savera – Free Coaching and Allied scheme added a new component in 2013- 14 which focused on students of classes 11-12 with science subjects. 

In the Union Budget 2023-24, the scheme was allotted Rs 30 crore, a drop of around 60% from its previous allocation of Rs 79 crore in 2022-23


However, the Centre discontinued the scheme earlier this year, saying the New Education Policy 2020 does not support coaching programmes.


 Government records show that 1.19 lakh minority students benefitted under the scheme.


Nai Udaan

This was a programme which supported minority students preparing for the preliminary examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and State Public Service Commissions (SPSCs).

No funds were allocated for the Nai Udaan scheme in the ongoing financial year.

Scheme for Providing Education to Madarsas and Minorities (SPEMM)


This centrally sponsored umbrella programme has a sub-scheme, the Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM), under which recognised madrasas receive financial assistance to introduce ‘modern’ subjects such as science, mathematics, social studies, Hindi and English in their curriculum. 


Funds are provided for payment of honorarium to madrasa teachers and in-service training to teachers at elementary and secondary levels. 


In 2021, the scheme was transferred to the Ministry of Minority Affairs from the Ministry of Education.

The scheme was allocated Rs 10 crore for the financial year 2023-24 —  more than 90% less than the allocation in 2022-23, which was ₹160 crore.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK)


Since its restructuring in 2018, the PMJVK, earlier known as the Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP), has provided infrastructure in identified minority concentration areas, including for education and skill development.

 Similar to theSPQEM, the budgetary allocation for the PMJVK reduced from Rs 1,650 crore last year to Rs 600 crore this year.




    • It is a technique used by bats, dolphins and submarines to get a sense of their surroundings.
      • An animal or a device emits sound waves, and listens for their reflections by objects in their surroundings.
      • Based on what the reflected waves, or echoes, sound like, the animal or the device understands its environment.
    • Animals that use echolocation emit high frequency sound pulses, often beyond the range of human hearing.
      • Bats which have poor eye sight, use this ability to hunt and navigate in the dark.
      • Dolphins use it to locate objects and communicate underwater.
      • Whales and some birds, such as tawny oilbirds, swiftlets and the tenrec (from Madagascar), also use echolocation.
    • Humans have harnessed the principles of this ingenious technique to create devices like ‘Sonar – Sound Navigation and Ranging’ and ‘radar – radio detection and ranging’.
      • Sonar is widely used for underwater navigation and communication, even as a method to find fish.
      • Radar is used in aviation, weather forecasting, and military applications to detect and track objects by bouncing Radio waves off them.
    • More recently, Engineers have used echolocation to develop smartphone apps that can create a map of a room to help people with visual impairment to navigate their environs better.


Chandrayaan – 3 and its Findings:

    • Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO) released a graph of temperature variation on the lunar surface with an increase in depth.
      • It is measured by ChaSTE payload aboard Chandrayaan’s Vikram lander.

ChaSTE :

  • Chandra’s surface Thermophysical Experiment measured the temperature profile of the lunar top soil around the south pole, to understand the thermal behaviour of the moon’s surface.
    • The payload has a temperature probe equipped with a controlled penetration mechanism, capable of reaching a depth of 10 cm beneath the surface.
    • It is fitted with 10 individual temperature sensors.
  • The graph illustrated the temperature variations of the lunar surface/ near – surface at various depths as recorded during probe’s penetration.
    • This is the first such profile for the lunar south pole.
  • This payload was developed by-
    • Space Physics laboratory (SPL) of the ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in collaboration with the Physical Research laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad.

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