SB Mujumdar lauds ‘Study in India’ programme
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement to introduce a ‘Study in India’ programme to attract foreign students to India has been hailed by professor SB Mujumdar, founder of Symbiosis Society who, 30 years ago, took pioneering efforts to cater to students from Africa and West Asia studying in Pune.
Founder-president of Symbiosis International (deemed) University, Mujumdar said, “The study in India programme is the most exciting announcement today in the Union Budget. Puneites should be happy about it.”
Mujumdar recalled that it was way back in 1971 that Symbiosis was established for the welfare of foreign students and to attract as many possible foreign students to Pune.
“Three months back I was called by the then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and in New Delhi, and this programme was discussed in detail. I am proud to say that Swaraj felicitated me for being the pioneer in the field of internationalisation of higher education in our country. I am glad that what was started in 1971 is now being recognised on the government level and it is now reflected in today’s union budget,” he said.
Mujumdar said, “It was way back in 1969 when I was a professor of botany at Fergusson College that I realised the significance and importance of international students in Pune.”
“They have a number of social and economic problems and instead of getting cultural strength they used to get cultural shock in Pune. Most of the students coming from Africa felt uncomfortable in Pune and were even discriminated at times. So it was necessary to give them an equal opportunity in education in our country and so I started Symbiosis,” he said.
“However, a lot needs to be done, to create a hospitable environment for foreign students.The government should give a large number of scholarships to international students, because for them, Indian education is soft power. Then, the government should create as many international student houses in different cities as possible and provide students ‘ease of living’. Also the government should identify central universities in the country where the conditions are favourable for international students,” added Mujumdar .