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India urged to resume medical, engineering scholarships to Afghan students

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: A number of Afghan students in India have urged the Indian government to resume medical and engineering scholarships to Afghan students as the scholarships have been discontinued for several years due to high demand of such seats from Indian students.

During an interactive session with senior civil service officers of the Afghan government the other day, organized by O.P. Jindal Global University, 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 External 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.

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 India’s IANS.

A batch of 19 senior civil servants from Afghanistan is undergoing an executive training program at Jindal Global University, Sonepat—a town in Haryana state of India, 20 kilometers from Delhi.

The university won the award from the Afghan government after a competitive international bidding process where it outbid eight other institutions from around the world

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