The minority status accorded to Jain community by the Union government is expected to benefit a number of students who come from economically weaker sections, especially in rural areas in the State.

Now, Jain students whose family’s annual income is less than Rs. 2.5 lakh are eligible for scholarship given by the State government, which recognises Jains as minority community.

But with national minority status accorded by Union government, this limit goes up to Rs. 4.5 lakh, under Centrally-sponsored scholarships.

“One of the biggest benefits from the minority status will be in the education sector both for students as well institutions run by Jains. Students from our community will now have access to a number of Central scholarships, which were hitherto not available to us,” said Jitendra Jain, president of Karnataka Jain Association.

According to him, the largest Jain pocket is found in Belgaum district that has nearly half of the total Jain population in the State, besides a sizeable population in the rural areas in Mysore, Hassan, Bijapur, Bagalkot and Gulbarga districts.

“Most of them are agriculture labourers or marginal land holders. We expect minority status to help this section of the Jain community,” he said.

Further, educational institutions managed by Jains will be recognised as minority institutions where up to 50 per cent of seats are reserved for community members. However, the reservation policy does not apply in the appointment of faculty members.

Though minority institutions benefit community students, there are, however, only two engineering colleges — one in Shravanabelogola and the other in Bangalore, while a medical college is yet to be established. Besides in Bangalore, educational institutions are run by Jains in Belgaum and Hassan districts.

Community help

“Till now, the Jain community has been pitching in with financial aid for needy students and it will continue to do so. The minority status will open up new avenues for students,” said chairman of Jain Coordination Committee Sajjan Raj Mehta.

“The needy students receive up to 40 per cent of their educational expenses from various organisations such as the Jain International Trade Organisations and the Jain Yuva Sanghatane Seva Trust,” he added.

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