ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Foreign Scholars and the Government

A circular has been sent by the University Grants Commission to the central universities and other institutions asking them to identify sensitive areas in different disciplines so that foreign scholars can be prevented from doing research in these areas. Involved here is the issue of freedom of speech and expression. That right vests in the Indian citizen - the right to receive information and knowledge.

With every passing day Murli Manohar Joshi, the minister supposedly in charge of human resources development, has been demonstrating that he is in fact, minister for saffronisation of India. Very appropriately the Gurudakshina ceremony for RSS devotees was held at his residence when prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and home minister L K Advani paid their dues.

Whether it is the suppression of volumes in the series Toward Freedom or appointment to sensitive posts of old party hacks (like M L Sondhi, a Jan Sangh mentor in the 1960s to chairmanship of ICSSR) Joshi's moves fall into a pattern. A report in The Hindustan Times by Anuhan Bhaumik in the issue of August 4 should open the eyes of those who imagine that the BJP is no threat to academic freedom. Joshi's ministry has undertaken a nationwide exercise to enlist those institutions and organisations "that are of strategic importance". A circular has been sent to central universities and other institutions from the University Grants Commission to identify sensitive areas in different disciplines so that foreign scholars can be prevented from opting for them. The circular said "The Ministry of Human Resource Development is preparing a list of sensitive or strategic organisations, departments and courses for regulating the participation of foreign nationals from the security point of view. The university is requested to indicate such fields and research areas which could be sensitive and may require screening from the Ministry of Home Affairs or Ministry of External Affairs."

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