The Department of Science and Technology on Tuesday said it had not received the necessary documents, including bank account details, for the disbursal of scholarship funds for Lady Shri Ram College student Aishwarya Reddy who died by suicide last week.
Reddy was a BSc Mathematics student at the Delhi University college. She died at her residence in Shadnagar in Ranga Reddy district of Telangana on November 2. In a purported suicide note, Reddy said she did not want to burden her parents with her educational expenses. “Because of me, my family is facing many financial problems,” the note in Telugu read. “I am a burden for my family.”
The LSR student was offered the Inspire Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) under the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) scheme of the Department of Science and Technology. She was eligible for a scholarship amount of Rs 80,000 per annum. But her father alleged that the money she was supposed to receive had been delayed.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Department of Science and Technology said that as in other years, the provisional fellowship letters of scholarship were sent out to 9,762 eligible applicants in August this year. Reddy, too, received her letter, it said.
“The students are asked to upload three simple documents like bank account details, mark-sheet, and a bonafide/performance certificate from the college, following which scholarship for entire year is promptly released,” the government department added. “Regretfully, these documents were not received from Ms. Aishwarya.”
It also appealed to all the shortlisted candidates to complete their formalities quickly so that the scholarship amounts can be disbursed at the earliest. Reddy was “one of the brightest and promising students of the country,” the DST said. “It is, for this reason, she was offered the Inspire SHE scholarship...The Department of Science and Technology is extremely grieved at the loss of life.”
The Centre’s INSPIRE scheme offers scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate, as well as PhD scholars and faculty members. It is available for up to five years and Reddy secured the SHE grant earmarked for 10,000 girls and women to study science.
A letter received by Reddy on August 6 indicates that the scholarship procedure was in the process of being completed, contrary to her father’s statement, reported The Indian Express. The Department of Science and Technology had reportedly informed her that she had been “provisionally selected” for the higher education scholarship. But the release of the annual fund of Rs 80,000 was subject to submission of bank account details and Aadhaar card copy before December 31, 2020.
Reddy’s death has sparked public outrage, especially against the Lady Shri Ram administration. Reports suggested that contrary to the college’s position, Reddy had informed LSR Students’ Union Committee for Inclusive Education that she did not have a proper internet connection to pursue online classes and had also mentioned the expenditure incurred by her family on data packs. Further, the committee was informed that she could not concentrate fully on her studies as she did not have a laptop and study material was also not available to her.
LSR students have also criticised the college administration’s “absolutely harassing and unjust move” to ask students to vacate hostels on a short notice in the midst of a pandemic. It said students, including Reddy, were forced to look for alternative housing even when there was no urgency.