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'India needs to resume medical, engineering scholarships to Afghan students'

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  21 April 2015 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, April 20: India gives numerous scholarships to Afghan students every year to study humanities subjects but has discontinued for several years the practice of giving scholarships in applied sciences and medical courses, due to high demand of such seats from Indian students, it was pointed out at an event here on Sunday. During an interactive session with senior civil service officers of the Afghan government, organised by O.P. Jindal Global University here, an Afghan participant sought to know why the Indian government had discontinued giving scholarships in applied sciences and medical courses, which the Afghan students are keen to pursue in India. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is also chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Exterl Affairs, said: “Many foreign countries have this issue,” and added that “there is a strong recommendation that India should do it (provide scholarships in applied sciences and medical courses)”.

According to Tharoor, India would give such scholarships in the 1950s and 60s and he had met prominent physicians in African countries who had done their medical studies in India. But over the years “demand outstripped” the number of seats available for Indian students, he added. He pointed out that for medical seats there are 10,000 applications for a single seat. “With so many Indians demanding public seats it becomes difficult for the government to allow free places to foreign students when Indians do not have ita but it is an enormous source of goodwill. In my view the government should make an exception for Afghanistan,” the diplomat-turned-politician added.

According to C. Raj Kumar, founding vice-chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, the university provides around 100 scholarships to Afghans to study, but not medical and engineering courses. He suggested that for Afghanistan, the government could relax the rule. “From our standpoint we intend to write to the HRD ministry to actually make this exception, as Shashi Tharoor has mentioned quite rightly. We don’t need to make a blanket exception, as there is a demand supply issue, but clearly for South Asian countries and for those countries which are in need for help, more than anything, Afghanistan deserves a different treatment; and specifically both public and private medical and engineering colleges should be given an opportunity with scholarships to welcome Afghan students,” Kumar told IANS.

A batch of 19 senior civil servants from Afghanistan is undergoing an executive training programme at Jindal Global University, Sonepat. The university won the award from the Afghan government after a competitive intertiol bidding process where it outbid eight other institutions from around the world.

This training is supported by the World Bank and is expected to impart critical skills to raise the knowledge levels and efficiency of Afghan bureaucrats who handle an extremely challenging environment in the backdrop of war and political uncertainty, said a university press release. This is an instance of South-South cooperation between two developing countries, spearheaded by a reputed Indian university, said the press release. (IANS)

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