Essay competition for students on communal harmony takes a back seat | india news | Hindustan Times
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Essay competition for students on communal harmony takes a back seat

In 1998, the Vajpayee government had introduced a scheme under which essay competitions on themes of secularism, communal harmony, and national integration were to be organised every year in educational institutions across the country.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2017 09:46 IST
Azaan Javaid
After a panel of judges selects the best three essays in their schools or colleges/universities, the internal security division of the home ministry releases funds to be distributed among students for their prize-winning essays.
After a panel of judges selects the best three essays in their schools or colleges/universities, the internal security division of the home ministry releases funds to be distributed among students for their prize-winning essays.(File Photo/For Representation)

As the debate on nationalism and patriotism continues to dominate public discourse, an initiative by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to promote communal harmony and national integration appears to have taken a back seat.

In 1998, the Vajpayee government had introduced a scheme under which essay competitions on themes of secularism, communal harmony, and national integration were to be organised every year in educational institutions across the country.

After a panel of judges selects the best three essays in their schools or colleges/universities, the internal security division of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) releases funds to be distributed among students for their prize-winning essays.

However, 2017 became the third year in a row when the Centre did not release any funds due to “poor response” from states.

HT had filed a Right to Information (RTI) query for details of prize-winning essays from recent years. Officials said states did not seem to be too enthusiastic to hold the competition. “It has received a poor response for quite some years. On our part, we haven’t discussed the reasons but maybe next year will be better,” a senior ministry official told HT.

While the first, second and third prize for school children (Classes 9 to 12) attract sums of Rs 1,000, Rs 600 and Rs 400, respectively, it’s Rs 5,000, Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,000 for university/college students.

“Each year, around 40-50 essays were awarded since the scheme started in 1998. In fact, 2011 saw the highest number as 90 students were awarded. However, the competition since has not seen a good performance,” another ministry official told HT.

On why the home ministry had not released funds, the official said states have not been sending proposals through “proper channels”, refusing to elaborate on what these ‘channels’ constitute.