Almost 27 years after he had completed his MTech from Barkatullah University (BU) in Bhopal, Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud wrote to Indian government, seeking his degree certificate in 2015. The university duly obliged the former student with a special convocation ceremony soon after.
The government has now embarked on a mission to tap the goodwill of many former students such as President Mohamud.
Though India has been running robust scholarship programmes for students from abroad for years, unlike for countries such as the US or France, its efforts to keep track of such students has remained patchy.
The Narendra Modi government seeks to change this by building on the ongoing efforts as well as beginning new ones to help these former students connect with India.
The total scholarship rolled by India for the year 2015-16 was 3, 339. This includes scholarships given by ministry of external affairs, AYUSH Ministry (The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) and Indian Council for Cultural Relation (ICCR).
The ICCR alone has 946 scholarships for students pursuing graduate, post-graduate, doctorate and post doctorate degrees. Over 6,518 students on scholarships are now in India. These scholars come from 120 countries in the world and study in institutions spread across 18 states of the country.
“This is a formidable number of students and the idea is to keep a database and keep them connected to India in various ways,” said Amarendra Khatua, director general of the ICCR.
The ICCR will name the database scheme A-to-A (Admission to Alumni). At the same time Indian missions have been putting in place groups of students who had studied in India. So far, 34 missions have formed such groups.
The government has various scholarships for foreign students. It gives 1,000 slots to students from Afghanistan. The students from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Mongolia, the Maldives and African countries have been given special focus too.