amid-visa-cancellations-uncertainty-haunts-1500-afghan-iccr-scholars

Context: Mr. Sultan, who worked formerly for the Afghan government in the Customs Department, received the prestigious Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarship to pursue his Master’s degree at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

More in the news:

  • Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarship to pursue his Master’s degree at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), is a  part of a programme launched by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2005.
  • About 800 students who were awarded the scholarship for the new term beginning in August are also waiting to hear about their visas to begin their degrees at various colleges and universities in India.

What is the confusion?

  • The MHA announced that all “previously issued visas” to Afghan nationals not in India “stand invalidated with immediate effect”, citing security apprehensions the visas would be misused.
  • This also affects about 400 other students, who are at present in the middle of their studies in India, and had to return to Afghanistan when the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closing down of universities.

Related Facts

Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) 

  • The Indian Council for Cultural Relations, is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India, involved in India's external cultural relations, through cultural exchange with other countries and their peoples.
  • It was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India’s first Education Minister.
  • Its objectives are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations; 
    • to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries; 
    • to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people, and 
    • to develop relations with nations.

The initiatives being rolled out by ICCR during the lockdown

  • ICCR is  preparing to make a new beginning in some areas of academic courses through a more structured system of knowledge dissemination and evaluation as well as certification. 
  • It has successfully started conducting e-tutorials and classes on a wide range of subjects including classical dances, Hindi, Sanskrit and even Yoga. 
    • It announced a global painting competition and also an essay competition for NRIs and alumni of Indian institutions. 

Future initiatives: 

  • There is a plan to start academic programmes like an Understanding India course, cultural exchange between future leaders, mainstreaming of our traditional artisans through exchange with similar artisans abroad and converting Chairs into full-fledged India Study Centres abroad.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations Scholarship Schemes:

  • General Scholarship Scheme
    • The GSS is one of the important scholarship schemes of ICCR for Foreign Students which is awarded at the undergraduate/postgraduate levels and for pursuing research to foreign students belonging to Asian and Latin American Countries.
  • Bangladesh Scholarship Scheme
    • Being neighboring country India has taken initiative for the upliftment of Bangladeshi and to make strong cultural and academic relations, the Govt. of India introduced the following schemes:
      • Bangladesh Scholarship Scheme
      • India Scholarship (Bangladesh) Scheme
      • Border Guard Bangladesh Scholarship Scheme
    • The Scholarship is to pursue Undergraduate/Postgraduate, Ph.D. including engineering courses on behalf of MEA to the Bangladeshi nationals under which more than 200 students are benefited every year.
  • Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme
    • The scheme to implement the policy of Commonwealth countries to contribute together in providing higher education to each other under which the Government of India through ICCR is providing scholarship at the level of undergraduate/postgraduate/doctoral and Research courses in Indian Universities to the students for Commonwealth Countries.
  • Nehru Memorial Scholarship Scheme
    • The scholarship schemes are for Srilankan nationals covering all UG courses including engineering and excluding medical courses.
  • CEP/EEP Scholarship Scheme
    • Under the Cultural Exchange Programme/Educational Exchange Programme signed between India and other foreign countries, the ICCR offers slots as indicated in the CEP/EEPs slots for pursuing undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses. 
    • The slots are offered only to those countries where we have valid CEP/EEPs. Terms and conditions are governed by the terms and conditions of the CEP/EEP's.
  • ICCR Scholarship scheme for studies in Indian Culture
    • ICCR Scholarship Scheme for Studies in Indian Culture
  • Silver Jubilee Scholarship Scheme
    • Since India has unboundable relations with Nepal, the Ministry of External Affairs introduced Silver Jubilee Scholarship Scheme for the benefit of the Nepali nationals, at present 64 scholarships are offered to Nepalese nationals under Agency Work on behalf of MEA.
  • AYUSH Scholarship Scheme
    • This scheme is meant for BIMSTEC countries. 
    • Under this scheme 30 scholarships are provided to pursue courses in the Indian traditional medical system such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. 
    • The BIMSTEC countries covered are Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Myanmar. 
    • This scheme is handled by ICCR as Agency work on behalf of BIMSTEC Division, MEA.
  • Aid-to-Maldive Scholarship Scheme
    • India believes in making strong relationships with the neighboring countries and believes that education and cultures the medium through which people to people contact would be established. 
    • As part of soft power policy the Govt. of India introduced schemes “Aid to Bhutan/Maldives/Mongolia for the benefit of the Foreign Students to the respective countries.
  • Mekong Ganga cooperation scholarship scheme
    • The scheme to implement the policy of making strong relationships and believes that education and cultures the medium through which people to people contact would be established. 
    • The Government of India through ICCR is providing scholarships at the level of undergraduate/ postgraduate/Ph.D courses in Indian Universities to the students for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Afghan Scholarship Scheme
    • Following PM’s visit to Afghanistan in August 2005, 500 scholarships have been awarded under SSSAN (Special Scholarship Scheme for Afghan Nationals) to pursue university level courses in India and now it has been increased to 1000 scholarships annually w.e.f. academic year 2012-13. 
    • It is administered as Agency work for the MEA.
  • Africa Scholarship Scheme
    • Govt. of India has enhanced opportunities for students of African Countries to avail of 900 scholarships at undergraduate/postgraduate and higher studies.
  • Aid-to-Mongolia Scholarships Scheme
    • India believes in making strong relationships with the neighboring countries and believes that education and cultures the medium through which people to people contact would be established. 
    • As part of soft power policy the Govt. of India introduced schemes “Aid to Bhutan/Maldives/Mongolia for the benefit of the Foreign Students to the respective countries.
  • Aid-to-Bhutan Scholarship Scheme
    • As part of soft power policy the Govt. of India introduced schemes “Aid to Bhutan/Maldives/Mongolia for the benefit of the Foreign Students to the respective countries.

Source:https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/uncertainty-looms-over-1500-afghan-iccr-scholars/article36156025.ece