"The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but
makes our life in harmony with all existence."- Rabindranath Tagore
Nothing is more important for a nation than its human resources. So, the Indian
Universities generate manpower for nations across the world through their
world-class education system.
Education has always been given great prominence in Indian society. India has
always been a blessing to students who have a thirst for knowledge and the
capacity of the country to extend cooperation by providing scholarships for
young and enthusiastic students, who are desirous of bringing about a change in
society on their return to their homeland, is a matter of pride for the nation
which is a pioneer in the education sector.
Indians have made significant
advances in architecture (Taj Mahal), mathematics (the invention of zero) and
medicine (Ayurveda). Ayurveda is a distinct form of medicine made purely of
herbs and natural weeds, that can cure any ailment of the world. The world owes
ancient India for the gift of one of the great contributions of Vedic
Role of Indian Universities in the diffusion of knowledge
India, from ancient times, has been a centre of higher learning as it is one of
the oldest civilizations in the world. Historically, Universities and libraries
were a big part of the Indus-Valley Civilization. The two famous ancient
universities of India and the oldest universities in the world are Takshashila (Taxila)and
Nalanda. Nalanda was established in the fifth century AD in Bihar, India and
survived until circa 1200 AD.
It was devoted to Buddhist studies, but it also
trained students in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and
the art of war. Ancient Taxila or Takshashila, in ancient Gandhara, was an early
Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning. According to scattered references that
were only fixed a millennium later, it may have dated back to at least the fifth
Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the sixth century
BC. Vikramashila was one of the two most important centres of learning in India
during the Pala Empire, along with Nalanda. Vikramashila was established by King
Dharmapala (783 to 820) in response to a supposed decline in the quality of
scholarship at Nalanda. Atisha, the renowned Pandita, is sometimes listed as a
notable abbot. It was destroyed by the forces of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji
around 1200. India, the fabled land of seers, sages, spiritual leaders and
healers has been a beacon of light for the West for centuries. It is known for
its tremendous cultural power that has maintained a deep impact on the world for
thousands of years.
The richness of India's culture is manifest in myriad
traditions, languages, faiths and rituals that lend it both wealth and depth.
People of this revered land exude a sense of vitality and positive energy that
conveys the essence of life. Though the west has cast its influence through
colonial rule, the people of India still hold on to their rich culture and
heritage which is a thing to be marvelled at. India has been working to make
this concept of Unity as well as share the Knowledge of Spirituality with the
world, which India considers to be its family.
Role Of ICCR As The Medium Of Soft Power
ICCR is working to its fullest extent to facilitate and improve foreign
relations in terms of education. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)
was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India's first
Education Minister who led the nation with wisdom and determination from the
dark days of despair to a future of hope is no less an inspiration.
objectives are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of
policies and programmes on India's external cultural relations; to foster and
strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other
countries; to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people, and to
develop relations with nations.
The primary mandate of the Council is to create international understanding
To meet this objective, the Council showcases quality
performing artists/groups in countries across the world so that the people get
to see and understand the diversity and the vibrancy of India's performing art
forms like classical, folk, theatre, modern dance and music etc.
are sent within the ambit of India's Cultural Exchange Programme with different
countries as well as outside it. Artists have travelled abroad from every corner
of India during the past six decades. The ICCR has sent thousands of cultural
troupes across the globe, apart from organizing Cultural Weeks and Festivals
dedicated to a specific country or region.
On average, more than 160 groups have
been travelling abroad in the last few years. The Council prides itself in
having sent great masters, living legends as well as young and promising
artists. This is a great way to showcase India's enduring and vibrant culture
and its incredible diversity. The following schemes are offered by the ICCR
under the Ministery of External Affairs of the government of India.
General Scholarship Scheme - ICCR - The GSS is one of the important scholarship
schemes of ICCR for Foreign Students which is awarded at the level of
undergraduate/postgraduate levels and for pursuing research to foreign students
belonging to Asian and Latin American Countries. Apart from this initiative for
the following specific categories have been taken up by the ICCRBangladesh
Scholarship Scheme - ICCR, Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme - ICCR, Nehru
Memorial Scholarship Scheme - ICCR, CEP/EEP Scholarship Scheme - ICCR.
government of India, under the Ministry of External Affairs, has the following
policies under its banner:
- Silver Jubilee Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for BIMSTEC Countries - MEA;
- Aid-to-Maldives Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- Mekong Ganga Co-operation Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- Afghan Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- Africa Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- Aid-to-Mongolia Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- Nehru Memorial Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- Maulana Azad Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- Rajiv Gandhi Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- India Scholarship (Bangladesh) Scheme - MEA;
- Aid-to-Bhutan Scholarship Scheme - MEA;
- AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for Non-BIMSTEC Countries;
- AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for Malaysian Nationals;
- AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for South-East Asian Region (SEAR) Countries;
- Scholarship Scheme for Children/Dependents of Afghan Nationals Defence &
Security Forces - MEA;
- Scholarship to Wards of Border Guard Bangladesh - MEA
ICCR, an autonomous
organisation under the Ministry of External Affairs, annually awards 3,940
scholarships under 26 schemes to foreign students from about 140 countries.
India And Its Cultural Ethos
India is taking effective steps to spread this concept of Unity through
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Yoga is a way to learn and understand spiritual India.
Also, yoga is associated with the culture and heritage of India. In Sanskrit,
yoga means 'to unite' and describes a way to live a healthy life.Many people
from India and foreigners are resorting to yoga and meditation to de-stress and
rejuvenate their minds.
From Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi, India's leaders
have often evoked the phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family),
taken from the Maha Upanishad, to elucidate the country's global outlook. While
the term has become a mantra of India's diplomatic lexicon. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
has become a catch-all notion for India's diplomatic orthodoxy to be deployed in
numerous scenarios. Although it might be open to myriad interpretations, it has
been used to broadly convey India's ideal and liberal concept of global norms,
themes of globalization, or global commons. In doing so, it suggests that this
is an ideal world worth achieving and it can be created through negotiations
Unity in diversity is a short and common phrase that envelops an entire world in
it. A true image of unity in diversity is presented by the people of India.
India is a diverse country, a fact that is visibly prominent in its people,
culture and climate. The Indian culture varies by its vast geography. People
speak in different languages, dress differently, follow different religions, eat
different food but are of the same temperament. For the most part, the
continental size of the country accounts for the variations and diversities.
The dynamism and the flexibility, of the people and in turn the nation, have
enabled the Indian culture to survive despite its many diversities and heavy
odds. Through these diversities runs a common stream, as it were, and the
similarity and unity of outlook can be noticed across the length and breadth of
the nation. Indian culture is a continuous synthesis and has absorbed many
external influences in the course of history.
Another notable characteristic of
Indian culture is that it has always been based on moral, religious and ethical
values. The shades of these are found even in the field of education. The global
image of India is that of an upcoming and progressive nation. India has
progressed by leaps and bounds in all sectors- commerce, technology and
The beauty of the Indian people lies in their spirit of tolerance,
give-and-take and a composition of cultures that can be compared to a garden of
flowers of various colours and shades of which, while maintaining their entity,
lend harmony and beauty to the garden - India! Religion in India also sees no
bounds. India is the place of reunion of many religions and languages of the
world. Great spiritual leaders and reformers like Swami Vivekananda and Raja Ram
Mohan Roy have worked incessantly as the harbinger of a new age in this great
land. In Indian culture, art, languages, literature, festivals and practices we
see the indelible mark of timeless Buddhist preaching and the philosophy of
non-violence espoused by Mahatma Gandhi.
The ICCR's Role in Educating Afghan Students'
India is attracting students from all over the globe especially from
Afghanistan, Africa, China, Japan, Maldives, Canada, France, Iran, Iraq,
Germany, Australia, UK and USA. This unbelievable progress in the educational
scenario also includes low costs of tuition as compared to the western
countries. Afghan students coming from a war-torn nation where peace, in the
last few decades, has been nothing more than an interlude between wars, no girl
that steps into the world should have to slip into the darkness of denied
opportunities. No son should have to choose between a war for the motherland or
refuge in a distant land.
No mother should fear bringing a child into this
world. Too much blood has been shed. Too many tragedies have darkened the
mountain ranges. Too many dreams have burnt in the fire of a senseless conflict
in the name of religion. Religious superiority and fundamentalism cannot be the
instrument that shapes a nation's future or dictates the choices a nation makes,
instead we need at the heart of every free nation the freedom of life and
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), had offered Under its Scheme,
a total of 1,000 scholarships every year to Afghan nationals for undergraduate,
postgraduate and PhD courses through Indian Universities.
As Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) indicates that there are 2,164
Afghan students in India under the ICCR scheme. Of these, 1,722 Afghan students
are physically present and studying in India, while 442 students are studying
online from outside India, mainly in Afghanistan. For the academic year
2021-2022, around 800 ICCR scholarships were given to Afghan students, with 650
being accepted. Between September and November 2021, the ICCR awarded more than
350 scholarships to Afghan graduates in India. The ICCR also appealed to the MHA
Govt of India to grant visas to students who are stranded in India till the
On 8th October 2021,ICCR determined its decision on the followingThe ICCR
Scholarship will be given to students enrolled in the previous as well as
current Academic Year 2O2I 22. Scholarships to students from Afghanistan who are
not physically present in India are allowed to attend the institution on online
mode and the benefit will be granted according to the prior norm on arrival to
India. ICCR has put a step forward to get an e visa and open a new door to India
for Afghan Nationals under Special Scholarship Scheme (SSSAN) and Afghan
National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) for the A.Y 2021-22.
We express our gratitude to the ICCR authorities who involved a key role in
putting a step forward to bring India and Afghanistan much closer together by
providing an exceptional new opportunity to Afghan students continue their
education and discover the beauty of India.
ICCR is the joint family of all foreign students that we are living under its
roof as a second home and being a special cradle to Afghan students who were
always deprived of the opportunity to build up their careers and personalities.
Certainly, India's involvement in Afghanistan has always been people-centred; we
share mutual diasporas, and many Hindus and Sikhs reside in Afghanistan as
Afghan citizens and we Afghans do not want them to lose their roots, while many
other Afghans have moved to India after the fall of Dr Najibullah's regime and
live in New Delhi very peacefully.
Note: during my study difficulties I have come across, to meet or contact
a few ICCR top profiles viz; the senior IFS, Ambassador Shri.Dinesh K. Patnaik
Hon'ble Director General of ICCR, a prominent IFS and notable diplomat Shri
Chinmoy Naik, the Deputy Director General, ICCR (Culture), and ShriVinay Vohra
an eminent senior Programme Director, ICCR (Afghan Section)
I found them with wisdom, compassion, tolerance, ability, integrity and
outstanding and who have special knowledge of, and such professional
experiencein soft diplomacy and International cultural involvements.
that in the heart of every Indian, there is boundless love and hospitality. I
have been deeply touched by their simplicity, commitments and friendly
approaches towards international students, after my involvement with the above
personalities I learn the sense of respect, command, beauty in heart and spirit,
patriotism in bureaucracy and educating the world with soft power called rich
cultural heritages in usage and practice of constitutional democracy.
During my stay in India, I have found that people are immensely kind, generous
and mindful of others, at every point of need. We are truly privileged to have
our education done in India, a country of great freedom of life and respect.
For millennia, India's greatest achievement has been adhering to its own land's
values and religious traditions. The keys to integrating such a unique culture
are tolerance, love, and respect for others' ways of life. For all of its
citizens, the country has a magnificent harmony.
Finally, I must say that India has equipped Afghanistan with as many as a
thousand young educated professionals in various disciplines who were employed
in a different capacity in the civil service administration and hundreds of
young military officers from IMA of DehraDun, were serving the ministry of
Defence of Afghanistan unfortunately 20 years struggle, sacrifices, expenditures
have been grabbed by the self-styled groups called The Taliban.
For the Afghan students the Taliban and Pakistan is the old wine in the new
bottle. both possess the same character. Their art of deceiving the
world may change but their hatred ideologies and painful records are remains
Hence, as we progress in life, we are subjected to change; yet, certain changes
shape our personality and life; hence, we are pivileged pursuing our education
India via ICCRto change the life by gaining wisdom, tolerance, compassion,
respect, mindfulness, and so on.
Sayed Qudrat Hashimy
Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Government of
India, A2ascholarships.iccr.gov.in (2021),
http://a2ascholarships.iccr.gov.in/home/getAllSchemeList (last visited Nov
A2 as cholarships.iccr.gov.in (2021),
(last visited Nov 20, 2021).
- Afghan National
E-mail: [email protected]