Will Modify: Govt On New Webinar Rules For Universities Amid Criticism From Academicians

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"Will Modify": Govt On New Webinar Rules For Universities Amid Criticism From Academicians

In an order issued in January, the government said that all public universities will need government permission to hold online sessions on India's 'internal matters’.

After incessant criticism from academic and scientific communities, the government on February 21 said that it would "soon modify" an order that mandates universities and professors to obtain prior permission for conducting online seminars and conferences related to India's "internal matters", reported Scroll.in.

"There is no intent to curb academic and research interactions at all. Modifications that both clarify and make enabling changes will be coming out very soon," Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan said.

The centre on January 15, had released a set of guidelines asking all publicly-funded universities, professors and administrators in the country to seek prior permission from the Ministry of External Affairs if they want to conduct online international conferences or seminars on matters concerning the security of the Indian state, or "sensitive subjects" which are "clearly related to India's internal matters".

The term "sensitive subjects" had been defined as anything that is "political, scientific, technical, commercial and personal", however, the phrase "internal matters" was not described and left to the government's interpretation.

The guidelines were issued by the foreign ministry in November and forwarded to universities across the country in January.

The guidelines also required state government ministers and officials to seek approval of the foreign ministry if they wish to be a part of any such virtual events.

The order triggered massive outrage among universities, professors and scholars who saw it as an attack on "academic freedom". Many even alleged that the new guidelines would limit any open discussion on science.

Demanding the withdrawal of the "blanket restrictions", the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Academy of Sciences on February 20, said that the order could "lead to a complete halt of all topical scientific discussions."

Also Read: "International Markets, COVID Responsible For Fuel Price Hike": Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

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