Promoting India's Culture through Foreign Students | 04 Apr 2023

For Prelims: Awards of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Indian Tourism Development Corporation, All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE).

For Mains: India’s Soft power diplomacy, Functions of Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Why in News?

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) plans to expand India's cultural footprint globally by utilising the experiences of foreign students studying in India.

  • This "soft power diplomacy" is meant to spread the India story when students go back to their home countries.

What are the Initiatives of ICCR To Expand India’s Cultural Footprints?

  • The ICCR will start E-3 or Exit Engagement Evenings with foreign students 3 to 4 months before they finish their courses in various Central and State universities, institutes, and agricultural colleges of the country.
    • After the engagement evenings, the students are sure to go back and promote Indian heritage and aspects of its unique culture.
  • The engagements would also include visits to places of national importance. The ICCR has zeroed in on the Khadi Commission, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation, and the Department of AYUSH to hold these evenings with the students.
  • The ICCR has also launched a website called the India Alumni Portal in April 2022 as a platform to connect with foreign students around the world who have studied in India.

What is the Current Status of Foreign Students Enrolling in India?

  • The number of foreign students enrolled in Indian higher education institutions was 48,035 in 2020-21, a marginal dip from 49,348 in 2019-20, according to the latest All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) brought out by the Ministry of Education.
  • People from more than 160 countries visit India to study, with Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the U.S., the UAE, Bhutan, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Yemen being the countries from which the majority of the students came.

What are the Functions of Indian Council for Cultural Relations?

  • About:
    • The ICCR is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India under the Ministry of External Affairs.
    • It was established in 1950 with the aim of promoting Indian culture and its values abroad and fostering cultural exchanges between India and other countries.
  • Functions:
    • Organising cultural festivals, performances, exhibitions, and lectures in India and abroad.
    • Granting scholarships to foreign students to study in India.
    • Offering courses in Indian music, dance, yoga, and languages.
      • ICCR has been assigned the responsibility of facilitating the celebration of the International Day of Yoga by Indian Missions/Posts abroad since 2015.
    • Collaborating with international organisations, cultural institutions, and foreign governments to promote cultural exchanges.
  • Awards:
    • Distinguished Indologist Award, World Sanskrit Award, Distinguished Alumni Award – Citation and Plaque and Gisela Bonn Award.

Source: TH