NSP Scholarship 2023 Biggest Scam, Here Are the Complete Details

In a shocking revelation, India’s Ministry of Minority Affairs has uncovered what could be the biggest minority scholarship scam in the country’s history. The scam revolves around the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) scholarship program, with a staggering 53 percent of the institutions under this program being deemed ‘fake’. The Ministry’s internal investigation found an alarming web of corruption that has siphoned off Rs 144.83 crore over the past five years. The scam has prompted the Union Minister Smriti Irani to call for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry, aiming to expose the extent of this far-reaching corruption and bring those responsible to justice.

The Scheme’s Scope and Purpose

Launched in the academic year 2007-2008, the Ministry of Minority Affairs’ scholarship program aims to provide financial support to minority students across India, ranging from primary education to higher studies. The NSP scholarship program has been a vital tool for enabling educational opportunities for underprivileged students belonging to minority communities, such as Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Parsis. However, the recent revelations have unveiled an intricate network of fraudulent activities that have severely compromised the integrity of the program.

Magnitude of the Scam

The Ministry’s internal investigation took place across 100 districts in 34 states, scrutinizing 1572 institutions. Shockingly, a significant portion of these institutions, 830 to be exact, were found to be involved in fraudulent activities. This means that over half of the institutions under the minority scholarship program were either fake or non-operational, rendering them undeserving of the scholarships they were receiving. The corruption seems to have permeated several levels of the system, with district nodal officers and institutions themselves verifying scholarships without proper on-ground scrutiny.

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Methodology of Fraud

The extent of the scam becomes apparent when considering the multiple red flags that surfaced during the investigation:

1. Overclaiming Scholarships: In Malappuram, Kerala, one bank branch disbursed 66,000 scholarships, surpassing the registered number of minority students eligible for scholarships. Similarly, in Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir, a college with 5,000 registered students claimed 7,000 scholarships.

2. False Beneficiaries: One mobile number of a parent was associated with 22 children, all supposedly in class IX. This reveals a shocking manipulation of identities and data.

3. Hostel Scholarship Manipulation: Even in institutions without hostels, every student was found to have claimed a hostel scholarship.

4. Banks’ Complicity: Banks allowed the opening of fake accounts for beneficiaries, accepting fabricated Aadhar cards and KYC documents.

5. Threats to Verification Team: In Assam, a bank branch allegedly had 66,000 beneficiaries, and the verification team faced threats when they attempted to verify student details at a madrasa.

6. Ghost Students: Minority students in Punjab were receiving scholarships despite not being enrolled in school, raising questions about the authenticity of these recipients.

Immediate Actions and Further Investigation

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has responded swiftly by ordering the freezing of accounts linked to the 830 institutions implicated in the scam. However, this is only the beginning. The CBI’s involvement aims to probe deeper into the matter, focusing on the nodal officers of the institutions, district nodal officers who verified the fake cases, and how the scam managed to persist across multiple states for years. The investigation will likely also delve into how the banks facilitated the fraudulent activities.

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