Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said that interest subsidy for educational loans will be available for eligible candidates for current academic year 2010-2011 too.

Addressing a function at Vriddhachalam near here organised to give away educational loans on Saturday, Mr. Chidambaram said that the Centre launched the interest subsidy scheme in 2009-2010 to help candidates belonging to the economically weaker sections take up higher education.

However, a debate was going on about the period of subsidy because it took time for the message to reach over one lakh bank branches across the country.

Hence, he made it clear that the interest subsidy would be available for the academic year 2010-2011 too, based on eligibility criteria.

Aggrieved candidates, if any, could approach Canara Bank for redress. Guaranteeing educational loan to all eligible candidates, Mr. Chidambaram called upon them to approach the banks with confidence.

When party workers presented him with a silver sword, Mr. Chidambaram wondered what he could do with it. He observed that he was not the Union Finance Minister now. But, being the Union Home Minister he was providing the youth with a weapon, the weapon of education, with which they could face the future with courage and bring about a bloodless revolution.

He recalled that when the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi nationalised banks there was a furore and questions were raised about their efficient functioning. Had she not done so, certain sections could not have derived monetary benefits such as waiver of farm loans to the tune of Rs.70,000 crore, educational loan of Rs.34,000 crore, and financial assistance of Rs.20,000 crore to 30 lakh Self-Help Groups. Hence, the beneficiaries should be thankful to Indira Gandhi for her foresight.

He was proud of the fact that the U.S. president Barack Obama had expressed the view that his country should not lag behind India and China in terms of higher education.

Thanks to the education policy of the United Progressive Alliance government, framed in 2004, higher education that used to be the preserve of the affluent sections had now become accessible to the economically weaker sections. In the last six years till March 31, 2010 educational loan to the tune of Rs.34,000 crore was disbursed to 18.50 lakh candidates.

Both boys and girls could seize the opportunity to pursue higher education, Mr. Chidambaram said.

District Collector P. Seetharaman said that on Saturday educational loan amounting to Rs.21.17 lakh was given away. He voiced concern over the fact that 4,199 students had defaulted in repayment to the extent of Rs.14.78 crore and called upon banks to devise suitable strategy to recover the money.

K.S. Alagiri, M.P., Selvaperundagai (Mangalore constituency) and N. Sundaram (Karaikudi constituency) MLAs, and others were present.