Getting into the country's best colleges is no longer the only incentive left for Class 12 students to do well in their Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams. Now, there's hard cash to be earned.
In a first-of-its kind decision, the human resource development (HRD) ministry Tuesday announced a Rs. 1 lakh cash award for 200 CBSE Class 12 toppers.
The toppers will be picked equally - 50 each - from the sciences, humanities, commerce and vocational streams offered by the CBSE.
Toppers are routinely awarded certificates, and the University Grants Commission offers several scholarships for bright students to pursue higher education.
But this is the first time that a government has decided on such cash awards that could potentially cover college tuition fees for at least one year.
The move, a brainchild of HRD minister MM Pallam Raju, comes at a time when the government is trying to hard sell its Direct Benefits Transfer initiative to hand cash subsidies to beneficiaries, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Class 12 students, typically between 17 and 19 years of age, will be eligible to vote in a national election for the first time next year.
However, the awards will only be for long-term students who have been in CBSE schools from Class 9, as the board feels threatened by admission reforms in engineering colleges, which may benefit students in easier state boards.