New Delhi, 25th Feb. 2021: The government has withdrawn an order which had mandated prior political approval for hosting international online conferences or seminars, following strong objection from scientists, academics and NGOs including Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
A new order by the Ministry of External Affairs, said on Wednesday, “in view of the easing of restrictions on travel and assembly of people by the government of India, and state governments, guidelines issued… (on) November 25 regarding political clearance for international conferences/seminars/training etc due to Covid19 pandemic are no longer applicable.” “All such events will, however, continue to be governed by the same rules and regulations that were applicable to political clearances prior to the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.
This November 25, order was echoed by the Ministry last month, asking all government institutions, including publicly funded institutions, to seek prior permission from “administrative Secretary” for holding online events. As mentioned in the November 2020 order, it had also asked the authorities considering these requests to ensure that the subject matter of such events did not relate to “security of State, Border, North East States, UT (union territory) of J&K, Ladakh, or any other issues which are clearly/purely related to India’s internal matters”.
In a press statement on Wednesday, Chairman of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s Markazi Taleemi Board (Education Board), Nusrat Ali has registered a strong objection to the government order asking all government entities, including Public Sector Undertakings, public-funded universities and institutions controlled and run by the Union and state governments to get prior approval from the union government for organizing any online/virtual international conferences/seminars/training etc. He said, “We feel that this order is an open curb on the basic freedom of citizens; it will hamper access to latest thoughts on social sciences, stifle scientific discussion and put obstacles in the path of the younger generation who wish to explore new vistas of humanities, science and technology. This will lead to a decline in our academic progress, as we will be deprived from seeking the best international expertise. On the one hand, in the NEP-2020, the government determines to make India a world leader in the field of education, on the other hand, such curb, undermines our country’s credibility and research process”. Demanding the government to reconsider this order, he asked the government to keep away from politicization and bureaucratic control of universities. “It must adhere to the commonly accepted fact that universities are places for the contest of ideas and thoughts. They flourish when given freedom and a global outlook,” he added. The Markazi Taleemi Board is a department of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind that runs and manages schools all over the country, produces textbooks in various languages, organizing training programs for teachers and undertaking various endeavours to improve the standard of education of educational institutions.
The Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Academy of Sciences representing more than 1,500 scientists and academics wrote to Union Education Minister recently, seeking withdrawal of the restrictions saying the directive could make it difficult to conduct any open scientific discussion.