Nurturing India's Young Ambassadors: Reaching out to Indian Students Abroad and NRI & OCI Students in India

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Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government, reconnect them with their roots and celebrate their achievements and contributions. PBD is celebrated on January 9 as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa to lead India’s freedom struggle.

In 2015 the Government of India revised the format of PBD and re-energized its engagement with the Indian Diaspora to enable sustained and more substantive engagement. Following the review, the PBD Convention will be held once in two years in a city outside Delhi. In the intervening year, smaller, outcome-based PBD Conferences will be organized in New Delhi on issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora. It was decided that Indian Missions and Consulates will also celebrate PBD every year.

Through the first series of PBD Conferences which commenced in February 2016 the Government is proactively engaging with the Overseas Indians in an issue-based dialogue.

As a run up to PBD 2017, 10 PBD Conferences (panel discussions) have been held in 2016 on issues of importance to the Indian Diaspora. Domain experts from the Diaspora, and stakeholders and policy makers based in India have been invited for day-long deliberations on various topics. Their recommendations have been submitted to the Government of India for consideration. At the 14th PBD Convention in January 2017, each PBD Conference will present their recommendations, and the Action Taken Report to PBD delegates for their suggestions and comments.

The 14th PBD Convention January 2017:

PBD 2017 which will focus on the theme “Redefining engagement with the Indian Diasporawill

  • Provide a platform for connecting with the Diaspora.
  • Address issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora and seek their insights and suggestions.
  • Deepen engagement with the young Diaspora and reconnect them with their roots.

Background for Youth PBD Plenary Session I

As per data collected by the Ministry in April 2016 there are nearly 6.58 lakh Indian students pursuing higher education abroad. Many of the 28 million NRIs and PIOs abroad are interested to send their children to India for undergraduate and graduate education especially professional courses.

There are more than 6 lakh Indian Students abroad pursuing education abroad and several NRI and Indian Origin Youth are enrolled in colleges and Universities in India. This session on “Nurturing India's Young Ambassadors: Reaching out to Indian Students Abroad and NRI & OCI Students in India aims at addressing issues faced by Indian Students abroad and NRI & PIO students in India.

The PBD 2016 Conference titled “Nurturing India's Young Ambassadors: Reaching out to Indian Students Abroad and NRI & OCI Students in India organised on 9th September 2016, in New Delhi saw participation of domain experts from the diaspora, stakeholders and policy makers. The session was chaired by EAM and the Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri. Prakash Javadekar.

Indian students abroad are vulnerable due to lack of awareness about the status of educational institutions abroad, local conditions/requirements, social issues, visa issues, working opportunities scholarships and racial discrimination. They are also duped by unscrupulous agents who place them in universities/colleges with dubious credentials.

NRI and PIO students also have difficulties in securing admission in undergraduate courses as they are considered on par with foreign nationals and have to pay higher fees. Sometimes they are not eligible to appear for entrance examination, in the same category as resident Indians.

Some recommendations made by the panel were:

  • Create brand for education in India to attract meritorious students from all over the world
  • Build database of Indian students abroad through registration on MADAD portal
  • Centralise online admission for those seeking admission in India
  • SAT Exam should be used for entry to IITs
  • Subject combinations requirements have to be synchronised with courses abroad
  • Issue of equivalence certificate to Indian students
  • Mutual recognition of degrees should be discussed further
  • Take steps to control unscrupulous educational agents
  • A common entrance examination for NRIs/PIOs/OCIs could be conceived so that quotas meant for them in all educational institutions is filled through merit
  • A Global Indian Students Association may be set up to help students with information and guidance.
  • Visa extension procedures to be simplified by foreign countries and India. Annual verification or extension of visa of foreign visas could be avoided by FRRO which could follow US model of one-time registration
  • Financial assistance for economically weaker students
  • Active engagement of Foreign Missions in Delhi and Indian Missions abroad to minimise role of agents
  • Ranking and branding of Indian Universities
  • National Educational Policy to be expanded to include scope for Indian origin students from abroad
  • Permit two semester based entries to balance mismatch between Indian and foreign academic sessions
  • Harmonise school calendars, equivalence of degrees and accreditation problems of medical students
  • Formation of studying as well as alumni associations
  • Pre-departure orientation programmes to be arranged for outbound students by the Government of India

The key areas of discussion in the session in PBD 2017 would be:

  • How can we better address issues and challenges faced by Indian Students abroad.
  • How can we make India’s educational system and programmes more accessible for NRI and Indian origin Students.