Education is regarded as one of the most powerful instruments for socio-economic advancement. However, for students belonging to economically disadvantaged sections of society, lack of financial resources often hinders their academic journey. This is especially true for students from minority communities, who frequently face social and economic marginalization.
To address this pressing issue, the Government of West Bengal introduced the Aikyashree scholarship program in 1996 under the aegis of the West Bengal Minority Development and Finance Corporation (WBMDFC). This flagship initiative aims to support meritorious and needy students from minority backgrounds to pursue higher education without financial constraints.
Over the past two decades, Aikyashree has emerged as a beacon of hope for lakhs of students, empowering them to achieve their academic dreams. In this detailed guide, we explore all key aspects of this pioneering scholarship scheme – its objectives, eligibility norms, application process, benefits and more.
Objectives of Aikyashree Scholarship
The Aikyashree scholarship program is anchored in the noble vision of promoting educational upliftment and augmenting employability among minority communities. More specifically, it has the following objectives:
- Bridging social inequity – By making education affordable, Aikyashree aims to bridge the social and economic divide faced by students from minority and underprivileged sections. It strives to bring them at par with the general category populace.
- Arresting drop-out rates – High attrition rates among students from economically weak families is a persistent problem. Aikyashree scholarships incentivize meritorious students to continue their education by easing monetary pressures.
- Enhancing attainment in higher education – The program seeks to boost enrollment and attainment rates in higher education among minority students via financial assistance. This invests them with qualifications to access enhanced career opportunities.
- Mainstreaming of marginalized communities – By investing in human capital development, Aikyashree lays the foundations for mainstreaming of minority groups who have traditionally remained outside the development fold.
By addressing educational and economic backwardness faced by minority communities, Aikyashree scholarships further the ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ vision of inclusive national progress.
Eligibility Criteria and Categories
The umbrella Aikyashree program encompasses a range of targeted scholarships with differential eligibility norms tailored to students’ specific needs and backgrounds.
The major scholarship schemes under its ambit are:
- West Bengal Pre-Matric Scholarship – For SC/ST students from Class 1 to Class 10
- West Bengal Post-Matric Scholarship – For SC/ST students above Class 10
- Swami Vivekananda Merit cum Means Scholarship – For general category minority students
- Bigyani Kanya Medha Britti Scholarship – Exclusively for girl students
- Hindi Scholarship Scheme – For students pursuing Hindi specialization
While eligibility criteria vary across scholarship types, the following broad parameters must be fulfilled by applicants:
1. Domicile Requirement
All scholarships are applicable only for students domiciled in West Bengal. They should have resided in the state for a minimum period as prescribed under different schemes.
2. Family Income
Candidates should have an annual family income below the prescribed ceiling – ranging from ₹2 lakhs to ₹6 lakhs across different scholarships.
3. Academic Qualification
Students need to meet the minimum academic cut-off score to qualify for Aikyashree scholarships. This cutoff percentile is 50% for most schemes.
Besides these broad criterion, students must also meet scheme-specific requirements pertaining to category, course of study, institution type, etc. to establish eligibility.
Coverage and Benefits Under Aikyashree
A defining hallmark of Aikyashree scholarships is generous financial coverage translating into tangible academic benefits:
1. Coverage of Tuition and Exam Fees
Aikyashree scholarships provide comprehensive coverage of all core tuition and examination fees across schools, colleges, and universities. This mitigates the foremost economic barrier that impedes education for students from indigent homes.
2. Cash Stipend for Incidental Expenses
In addition to direct fee coverage, merit-cum-means schemes under Aikyashree also extend cash stipends to recipients. This financial assistance helps them meet ancillary academic expenses like books, stationery, transport, accommodation etc.
The stipend amount ranges between ₹150 to ₹3000 per month depending on the scholarship scheme and level of education.
3. Coverage up to Ph.D. Level
A stellar highlight of West Bengal’s Aikyashree initiative is that it envisions enabling students to attain the highest echelons of academia. Scholarship coverage spans every stage – from secondary school to doctoral degrees.
The maximum annual scholarship amount extends up to ₹30,000 for PhD/technical courses.
4. Empowerment Through Skills
In conjunction with academic scholarships, Aikyashree also facilitates vocational training of minority youth in specialized domains like technology, finance, arts and crafts, agriculture etc. to expand their income generation avenues.
By investing in skill-based learning programs, Aikyashree promotes holistic empowerment.
How to Apply for Aikyashree Scholarship?
Leveraging the digital transformation in governance services, Aikyashree scholarship applications have been moved completely online through the Scholarship Portal. This has made the process seamless, de-centralized and more efficient.
Here is a step-by-step guide on the Aikyashree scholarship application process:
- Verify Eligibility – Students must first ensure that they meet the eligibility norms as per their category, domicile status, family income, etc.
- Scholarship Portal Access – Visit the portal www.wbmdfcscholarship.in to access the online application form. For Hindi scholarships, visit www.wbhedscholarship.gov.in
- One-time Registration – Applicants need to complete a one-time registration process submitting personal, academic and contact details. An application ID is generated.
- Scheme Selection – Log-in and select the appropriate Aikyashree scholarship scheme you seek to apply under. Ensure it aligns with eligibility.
- Form Submission – Accurately furnish all requisite information in the form and submit it online along with scanned copies of supporting documents.
- Tracking Status – Check the portal regularly for application status updates via your login credentials.
Aikyashree scholarships invite fresh applications each year via the portal generally spanning the period between May to October. Interested candidates should apply within stipulated timelines each year.
Key Documents Needed
To substantiate details furnished in the application form, candidates need to submit the following documentary proofs online:
- Identity and Domicile Certificates
- Family Income Proof
- Marksheets of Last Qualifying Exam
- Bank Account Details
- Passport Size Photograph
Additionally, scheme-specific documents pertaining to caste, institution-type, course-plan etc. may also need to be attached by candidates with the form.
Renewal of Scholarship
For students already availing Aikyashree scholarships, online applications for renewal open around mid-August each year based on declaration of preceding exam results.
Eligibility for renewal requires candidates to have scored a minimum of 50% marks in their last annual/semester exam. Duly submitted renewal forms extend scholarship coverage for the next academic year.
- Renewal Application Opens – 15th August
- Renewal Application Closes – 31st October
Through the streamlined online renewal process, students can continue availing uninterrupted financial support during their education tenure.
Administering Bodies Behind Aikyashree
While the Aikyashree scholarship program is anchored by WBMDFC, its effective on-ground execution requires coordinated efforts between different state government and central government bodies.
Here is a brief overview of the key entities associated with the functioning of these scholarships:
- WBMDFC – Nodal agency governing Aikyashree implementation
- Backward Classes Welfare Department – Manages SC/ST scholarships
- Higher Education Department – Oversees Hindi scholarships
- School Education Department – Facilitates pre & post matric scholarships
- National Scholarship Portal – For integration with central scholarship schemes
Besides the government efforts, Aikyashree also partners with non-profit organizations working at grassroots level to expand outreach efforts and assist beneficiaries.
Tracking Aikyashree Scholarship Status
To enable applicants to conveniently track status of their submitted scholarship forms, online tracking facilities have been provisioned.
Through the Scholarship Portal
- Visit www.wbmdfcscholarship.in and login via registered credentials
- From the dashboard, check ‘Application Status’ for updates
- Status displays – Submitted, Pending, Approved etc.
- In case of application rejection, grounds for the same are specified which can be rectified in renewal form
Via Automated Helplines
Dedicated automated phone and SMS-based inquiry services are available enabling students to conveniently check application status without web access:
- Call Centre – Check status via automated customer care call service at Toll Free Number 1800-120-2130
- SMS Facility – Send SMS to 51969 in prescribed format to retrieve application status
So whether via portal or phone, applicants can easily discover precise status of their Aikyashree scholarship application.
Queries and Grievance Redressal
An effective grievance redressal mechanism has been instituted for prompt query resolution and escalation handling empowering beneficiaries of the Aikyashree scheme.
Channels for queries, complaints and suggestions include:
- Email – Students can write their queries to email@example.com
- WhatsApp/Phone – Critical issues requiring real-time redressal can be highlighted via WhatsApp/call at 8017071714
- Department Visits – For complex cases, students can seek prior appointment and visit the WBMDFC regional office
Through these channels, policymakers continually secure grassroot feedback to bolster the scheme’s scope and coverage.
Key Benefits and Impact of Aikyashree
While its core objective is bridging financial barriers to education, Aikyashree scholarships have had prolific multiplier impacts, transforming minority socio-economics in West Bengal:
1. Financial Inclusion
- Arresting education attrition via economic assistance promotes financial inclusion of minority groups by investing them with professional qualifications needed for better work participation.
2. Social Empowerment
- Aid disbursed directly into bank accounts makes beneficiaries and families familiar with institutional credit access. This elevates their social capital and bargaining power.
3. Enabling Advancement
- Exposure to high-quality educational opportunities helps students overcome socio-economic and cultural limitations they’ve inherited from communities. This aids social mobility.
4. Gender Empowerment
- Special incentives for girl students directly combat regressive patriarchal norms impeding women’s education among minority sections. It promotes gender-progressive mindsets.
5. Boosts Literacy
- Widespread financial coverage helps augment literacy rates and raise education levels, creating a Knowledge Society – the pre-requisite for West Bengal’s economic and human development.
By investing in inclusive education, Aikyashree Scholarships lay the foundations for minority community development and help actualize the ‘Sonar Bangla’ ideal in West Bengal.
A stable policy framework backed by political will and an efficient public delivery system has transformed Aikyashree into one of India’s most high-impact affirmative action programs promoting academic excellence and employability among minority and deprived groups.
Its doorstep scholarships are the leg-up students need to circumvent socio-economic roadblocks in climbing up the ladder of Education, Empowerment and Enlightenment!
Apply for Aikyashree Scholarships Now
Students meeting requisite eligibility norms can visit the Scholarship Portal and conveniently apply online for availing financial assistance to fund their academic aspirations without financial stress. Log onto www.wbmdfcscholarship.in and apply today!