Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi
File Photo

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Sunday slammed the Centre over the curbs on international webinars of conferences on certain subjects, posing a question to students and academics why the government does not trust them.

The Ministry of Education had issued guidelines last month asking universities to seek prior permission for conducting international webinars of conferences on certain subjects which are 'sensitive' or 'related to India's internal matters'.

"Students & academics, Please ask yourself why you are no longer allowed to speak to the outside world. Why doesn’t GOI trust you?" Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

In an official order on January 15, the Education Ministry had said that clearance from the external affairs ministry will be required for holding international conference, seminar, workshop or training on security of state, border, Northeast states, union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh or any other issues which are clearly related to India's internal matters.

According to the guidelines, when giving permission to hold the online event, the government will ensure the subject matter is not related to the listed subjects.

"Events having foreign funding and sponsorship and events involving sensitive subjects (political, scientific, technical, commercial, personal) with provisions of sharing date in any form, will also need clearance from MEA," the guidelines said.

"For participation of Union, state Ministers, constitutional functionaries and government officials, scientists, doctors of Joint Secretary rank and above, in the said conferences and seminars, MEA clearance will be required," it said.

The guidelines also noted that appropriated level of scrutiny shall be exercised to identify the nature and sensitivity of data, contents of presentation and information to be shared by Indian delegation in the event.

"Due care should be taken to ensure that India's flag, map, emblem etc are correctly and rightly displayed," it said.

The curb has faced protests from a section of students and academic. At least two science academies have objcted to the restriction, asking the government to withdraw them. The Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Academy of Sciences have written to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal seeking withdrawal of the restrictions saying the rules could halt all scientific discussion.

(With PTI inputs)

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