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Confucius Institutes in India’s days numbered?

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(TibetanReview.net, Apr28’22) – Like in many parts of the democratic West, Confucius institutes (CIs) in India have come under scrutiny for being a subversive arm of the communist Chinese government and could follow the trend in those countries of being shut down. They have come under a cloud for alleged influence over host institutions, propaganda and even suspicions of espionage elsewhere too, noted the economictimes.com Apr 28.

Two years ago, India’s education ministry initiated a review of all collaborations between Confucius centres and Indian institutes following the standoff along the Line of Actual Control.

And now, educational institutes which wish to collaborate with China’s Confucius centres will need to obtain Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) clearances and foreign ministry approval henceforth, with the guidelines applying for existing collaborations too.

The Centre’s confidential circular sent to higher educational institutes in early Apr 2022 said that the control and operation of CIs had changed from the erstwhile Hanban (a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education) to a ‘non-profit trust’ called the Centre for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC). CLEC is registered as a non-profit professional education for international Chinese language education affiliated to China’s education ministry.

The report said that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) had asked institutes in a letter on Apr 5 that any collaboration with any NGO/foundation needed FCRA clearances.

“Hence all universities/institutions having collaboration with Confucius institutes / Hanban / CLEC or planning to collaborate to set up Confucius institutes or any other joint venture in any other name will be required to seek prior clearance under FCRA,” the communication sent by AICTE and UGC was stated to read.

Besides, Confucius centres are regarded as foreign cultural centres and will also require MEA approval for setting up of new centres and continuation or renewal of existing ones.

CIs make up a global network of over 550 centres and are considered a key component of China’s cultural and social outreach programme, besides for teaching and propagation of Mandarin, the report noted. Funding for the CIs come from the Chinese government now through the CLEC.

During the review process, the ministry of education was stated to have scanned seven Indian universities and 54 memoranda of understanding on various inter school cooperations/ exchanges made under the Chinese programme. They were stated to include the University of Mumbai, Vellore Institute of Technology, OP Jindal University, Lovely Professional University, the School of Chinese Language in Kolkata, Bharathiar University and KR Mangalam University.

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