“We haven’t had classes since July (2022). Even before that, classes were pretty irregular and they did not teach us economics or optional (optional subject),” said Kirti Bedha, a beneficiary of the Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana (JBMPVY) who is enrolled at Vajirao and Reddy Institute to prepare for the UPSC CSE examination.
Launched by the Delhi government’s Department of Social Welfare in 2018, JBMPVY is aimed at providing free coaching to Delhi-based students from the SC, ST, OBC and EWS categories to prepare for entrance exams for professional courses (engineering, medical and CLAT) and competitive exams for jobs (civil services, banking, or railways). While the government had tied up with 46 private institutions to facilitate the programme, the requisite funding is yet to be released. Subsequently, coaching institutions haven’t received the fees since admissions under the scheme resumed after the pandemic in 2021. Students too haven’t received their stipend (Rs 2,500 per month).
As a result, several beneficiaries of the scheme like Kirti are now in the lurch. Despite repeated attempts, the Delhi government did not respond to requests for comment.
Another beneficiary of the scheme, Neha Shandilya, a graduate of Delhi University’s IP College, had applied in 2020 for coaching at Vajirao and Reddy but complained of irregular classes. “Classes took place only for a month after I joined, after which the pandemic started. In 2021, I applied once again and classes started in October. First we had a break for Diwali and then due to pollution. Subsequently in May 2022, some days before the prelims, classes stopped again, this time because of lack of funds. Classes resumed in a week or so but again stopped in July. There have been no classes ever since.” Neha’s father passed away during the first wave of the pandemic and her mother is a homemaker. Her grandfather worked with the railways and his pension is their only source of income, but given the situation, she is considering other paid coaching options.
At a recent press conference, former Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam had spoken about the “success” of the scheme and said it was Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s vision that one’s financial condition should never be a roadblock in their success. He had said, “I feel proud to share that around 13,000 students have enrolled in civil services, engineering, medical, police, banking, railways and several competitive exams’ coaching out of the targeted scope of 15,000 students. Among those 13,000 students, 4,000 took admission into medical and engineering… Out of them, 1,300 students have been selected for various medical and engineering entrance exams. This means that our selection rate is over 25%.”
Most coaching institutions continued with classes despite the lack of funding, sometimes by merging the batch with other paid ones but are reluctant to start a new batch until their previous dues are cleared. Nirman IAS, Aastha IAS, Dhyeya IAS, Elite IAS and Sri Chaitanya Educational Institute are some of the constituent institutions that have confirmed the same.
“We have spoken to Rajendra Pal Gautam, the Department Secretary and other officials regarding the same and they keep telling us funds will be released. When, we don’t know,” said an official from the Takshila Academy Pvt. Ltd, Rohini.
Another JBMPVY beneficiary enrolled at Vajirao and Reddy Institute, Anurag Shakya, took this up with the authorities concerned. Over the past couple of months, he has written over 15 emails to the Ministry of Social Welfare of the Delhi government and submitted a physical application but to no avail.