Japanese firms in India come through with scholarships amid national shortage, high demand


India, where more than half of its 1.3 billion people are age 25 or younger, is facing a shortage of scholarship programs.

With the Indian government’s scholarship system falling behind demand, Japanese trading houses and other companies provide financial aid as part of their social contribution activities.

An urgent task for India, which has seen its economy grow around 7 percent annually in the past several years, is to nurture human resources to help sustain its economic growth.

The number of people who attended institutions for tertiary education in 2016 jumped to some 35.7 million from some 27.5 million in 2010.

An official at India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, which is in charge of national scholarship programs, claimed there is no shortage of scholarships.

But Vikramendra Kumar, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Delhi, said such state grants “are insufficient.” There are some 70 government scholarship programs, according to Kumar. Ninety programs provided mainly by companies supplement the government-affiliated scholarships.

Since 2014, India’s corporate law has encouraged companies making a certain level of profits to spend part of their earnings on social contribution activities.

Marubeni Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp. are among such companies offering financial support for students in India.

Scholarship stipends by the Indian government are “too low,” said Radib Kar, a university sophomore who received a scholarship from Marubeni.

Kar, 20, spent 50,000 rupees, or some ¥82,000, from Marubeni mainly on tuition fees and a personal computer for classes.

He failed to obtain an Indian state scholarship, even though he believes he scored 94 out of 100 in a related exam.

The private scholarship “has been such a guardian to me,” he said, stressing his hope to become “a pioneer” in his chosen field of information processing.