Session Report

Plenary Session I: Nurturing India’s young ambassadors: Reaching out to Indian students abroad and NRI & OCI students in India

Chair:

  • Mr Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Human Resources Development, Government of India 

Co-Chair: 

  • Gen. (Retd) V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India 

Session Coordinator:

  • Ms Vani Rao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

Panelists:                                           

  • Dr Prayag Murawala, Researcher at the Centre for Regenerative Therapies, Technische University, Dresden, Germany
  • Mr A K Shrivastava, Principal, Birla Public School, Qatar
  • Mr S V Chandrasekar, Director of EduIndia, Malaysia
  • Ms Pushpa Wood, Director of Westpac and Massey University Fin. Edu and Research Centre, New Zealand
  • Mr Atul Temurnikar, Chairman and Co-Founder of Global Indian International School & Global Indian Foundation, Singapore
  • Prof Sampath Ramesh, Adjunct Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois, USA
  • Ms Sanam Arora, President of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union, UK
  • Mr Radhakrishnan Nair, Principal of Sharjah Indian School, Sharjah, UAE
  • Mr Sunil Pala, Sr. Consultant, Capital Markets Division, Accenture, UK
  • Mr Jignesh Borsia, National Youth Activities Coordinator for Hindu Swayam Sevak, USA
  • Ms Ravneet Pawha, Executive Director- South Asia, Deakin University, India
  • Mr Aniket Kale, Secretary General, World Organization of Students and Youth, India
  • Mr Pusala Mohana Chary, Instrumentation Engineer, India
  • Mr Darshan Soni, Entrepreneur, USA
  • Mr Anindya Bhowmik, Engineer, Australia

The Context

The PBD 2016 Conference titled “Nurturing India's Young Ambassadors: Reaching out to Indian students abroad and NRI & OCI Students in India” organised on  September 9, 2016, in New Delhi saw the participation of domain experts from the Diaspora, stakeholders and policy makers. The session was chaired by Ms Sushma Swaraj, Minister for External Affairs, Government of India, and co-chaired by Mr Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India.  There were 13 overseas Indian domain experts and 12 stakeholders from India.

The deliberations pointed to the fact that many Indian students abroad are vulnerable due to lack of awareness about the status of educational institutions there, local conditions/requirements, social issues, rules about employment and work permits, and racial discrimination. Some are duped by unscrupulous agents who place them in universities/colleges with dubious credentials.

NRI and PIO students also face difficulty in securing admission to undergraduate courses in India as they are considered on par with foreign nationals and have to pay higher fees. In some cases they are not eligible to appear for entrance examinations to professional courses in the category of resident Indians. The panel made several recommendations on addressing the issues and the Ministry forwarded them to concerned Ministries/Departments of Government of India, and other stakeholders.

The Plenary Session at the Youth PBD 2017 on the subject of “Nurturing India's Young Ambassadors: Reaching Out to Indian Students Abroad and NRI & OCI Students in India” was chaired by Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India, Mr Prakash Javadekar and co-chaired by Gen. (Retd) V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India. Other participants in the Plenary Session included overseas Indians and resident Indian domain experts who had participated in the PBD Conference in September 2016.

Recommendations & Action Taken

Ms Vani Rao, Joint Secretary (OIA2), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, made a presentation of the recommendations of the PBD 2016 Conference. The conference had recommended forming Indian Students’ Associations abroad that shall facilitate enhanced and easier interaction with the overseas Indian missions. It was also suggested that education consultants in India should be duly regulated to ensure that only credible and genuine consultants are authorised to advise students going abroad.

The  conference had recommended the (i) introduction of CBSE-I, an international curriculum in the Indian schools to facilitate NRI children to be educated in Indian schools, (ii) institution of a common entrance examination for NRI, PIO, OCI students and synchronization of the Indian school schedules with the international school calendar. The panel also called for “equivalence of CBSE score and qualifications” and matching the syllabus of Indian educational institutions with combinations offered abroad.

The conference had suggested that grant of visas to Indian students in the UK should include permission for two years of work experience and that the Indian Mission in USA should help Indian students address legal and immigration issues.

It was further suggested that the National Education Policy should extend to overseas Indian students and the scholarship programme for children of Diaspora should be broadened.

With regard to NRI students coming to India to study, the conference had recommended that a centralised online admissions should be introduced along with the grant of a three-year visa, co-terminus with the period of study.

Ranking and branding of Indian educational institutions, and upgradation of select 10 Indian educational facilities as ‘Institutions of Excellence’ was also recommended. It was noted that the Ministry of HRD has already prepared draft UGC regulations which are in the final stages of consideration and adoption.

Ms Rao also informed the PBD delegates about action taken so far by the different Ministries on the recommendations made at the conference. CBSE-I syllabus is being introduced in CBSE affiliated schools in India in a phased manner. Provision for Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) is already in place for admission of foreign students in Centrally-funded institutions. While JEE (Main) is already being held in some countries, from 2017 onwards JEE (Advanced) will be conducted in all SAARC countries, with the exception of Pakistan.

Tests for admissions to most universities, including all Central universities, have already adopted the online mode as per instructions of the University Grants Commission (UGC), and now IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma is considered equivalent to CBSE +2 -- as recognized by AIU -- as an entry qualification to all universities in India.

Most Indian Boards now allow choice of subject combinations, with the exception of physics which is not mandatory for pursuing a degree in foreign universities.

The Ministry of HRD has introduced the National Institutional Ranking Framework that assists NRIs students by providing credible data for choosing their preferred institution of study.

A ‘Student Registration Module’ was introduced on the Ministry's MADAD portal in July 2016 to facilitate online registration by Indian students abroad. This will enable building a database on the geographical spread, courses pursued, the duration, etc., which will be shared with the Indian Missions so that they can pro-actively address the issues faced by students, on a single platform.

The Scholarship Program for Diaspora Children (SPDC) Scheme has been expanded by increasing the number of eligible countries from 40 to 66, particularly in the Gulf countries, and the number of scholarships has gone up from 100 to 150.

It was pointed out that Indian Missions are proactively connecting with Indian students/alumni unions/associations across various universities overseas.

Plenary Session & Q&A

Mr Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Human Resources, Government of India, spoke about imbuing the Indian educational system with quality, especially in building world-class research laboratories and academic institutions. Mr Javadekar said that accent on quality was the most important ingredient of Government of India’s policy on education. The Government follows a “pro-active, dialogue-based, action-oriented, and totally accountable policy”. The Minister asserted that he was in “continuous dialogue” with all stakeholders to address concerns of both Indian students going abroad to study and NRI and OCI students coming to India for academic pursuits.

Noting that quality of education was key to India’s ambitions to regain its past glory as a knowledge superpower, he reiterated that a number of measures were being taken by the Government. Chief among them, he said, was to establish “20 world class educational institutions” in the country, 10 in the government sector and 10 in the private sector.

He said the Government will spend about $3bn for upgrading the higher education and research institutions in the country so that they can be at par with the best in the world; it was important to provide world class education and research infrastructure to be able to retain the best brains and talents within India. It is also important to incubate the best possible labs and research institutions, he added.

To take this forward, the Government decided to provide ‘PM's Scholarships’ of Rs 1 lakh per month to encourage research and academic excellence in India. The Global Research Interactive Network (GRIN) was also launched toward realising this goal.

Mr Javadekar said the National Academic Depository (NAD) would be up and running soon. NAD is designed as a digital depository for all the academic qualifications and professional certifications of students in India that will be available within minutes across the world, fully authenticated and digitalised.

Responding to questions from the delegates, Mr Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, Secretary (OIA & CPV), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, said that the Ministry has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to facilitate Indian visas to NRI students from recognised institutions, co-terminus with their period of study in India.

Noting that all PIOs do not yet have the OCI card (which does away with the need for visa-duration restrictions) Mr Mulay urged the PIOs to convert their PIO cards to OCI cards.

He said that out of the 150 scholarships extended to the Indian Diaspora students, 50 have been reserved for students whose parents work in the Gulf region. As the scheme is new, he said there “weren’t enough applications” and he invited interested candidates to apply on the site www.spdcindia.gov.in to avail the scheme.

Indian Missions overseas are now pro-active in formulating innovative and creative programme to assist the Indian students abroad, especially in times of distress.

Participants

  1. Mr Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Human Resource Development, Government of India (Chair)           
  2. Ms Vani Rao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India (Session Coordinator)
  3. Mr Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Secretary (OIA & CPV), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India
  4. Gen. (Retd) V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India
  5. Dr Prayag Murawala, Researcher at the Centre for Regenerative Therapies, Technische University, Dresden, Germany
  6. Mr A K Shrivastava, Principal, Birla Public School, Qatar
  7. Mr S V Chandrasekar, Director of EduIndia, Malaysia
  8. Ms Pushpa Wood, Director of Westpac and Massey University Fin. Edu and Research Centre, New Zealand
  9. Mr Atul Temurnikar, Chairman and Co-Founder of Global Indian International School & Global Indian Foundation, Singapore
  10. Prof Sampath Ramesh, Adjunct Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois, USA
  11. Ms Sanam Arora, President of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union, UK
  12. Mr Radhakrishnan Nair, Principal of Sharjah Indian School, Sharjah, UAE
  13. Mr Sunil Pala, Sr. Consultant, Capital Markets Division, Accenture, UK
  14. Mr Jignesh Borsia, National Youth Activities Coordinator for Hindu Swayam Sevak, USS
  15. Ms Ravneet Pawha, Executive Director- South Asia, Deakin University, India
  16. Mr Aniket Kale, Secretary General, World Organization of Students and Youth, India
  17. Mr Pusala Mohana Chary, Instrumentation Engineer, India
  18. Mr Darshan Soni, Entrepreneur, USA
  19. Mr Anindya Bhowmik, Engineer, Australia

Key Recommendations of the Session

In the interactive session with PBD delegates the following suggestions and recommendations were made:

  • Create a platform for Diaspora scientists who can come to India to facilitate exchange programme and inspire young innovators.
  • Universities should build alumni networks to connect with the Diaspora and approach them for their expertise.
  • Create a pool of Diaspora mentors.
  • Facilitate close interaction between Indian students’ associations abroad and the Indian Missions.
  • Educational consultants in India should be duly regulated to ensure that only credible and genuine guides advise the students going abroad to study.
  • Visas to Indian students in the UK should include permission for two years of work experience.
  • The Indian Mission in USA should help Indian students with regard to legal and immigration issues.
  • The National Education Policy should extend to overseas Indian students.
  • Introduce ranking, branding and evangelising of Indian educational institutions, and upgrade select 10 Indian educational facilities as ‘Institutions of Excellence’.
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