AAA Supports InSAF India’s Open Letter Against National Overseas Scholarship Restrictions

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More than 20 international academic associations, research centres and diasporic organisations and 350 scholars have issued an open letter outlining numerous objections to the recent policy changes to the guidelines for the National Overseas Scholarship (NOS).

The letter addressed to the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Virendra Kumar, calls for the immediate withdrawal of the new policy clause that excludes students from marginalised communities intending to pursue further education and research abroad from working on “[t]opics/courses concerning Indian [c]ulture/heritage/[h]istory/[s]ocial studies on India”. The letter describes the guideline as a regressive step for academic exchange, an unwarranted restriction of the academic freedom of scholars studying abroad on government bursaries, as well as an unjustifiable attempt to restrict international scholarship on India.

The letter argues that the amendments attest to a lack of understanding of how interdisciplinary research is conducted today, where scholarship cannot be restricted by national boundaries. It stresses that for universities around the world with thriving South Asian departments and research centres, it is vital that scholars and researchers from marginalised backgrounds in India contribute to and participate in these international networks and research centres without conditions attached.

The letter points out that female applicants, already disproportionately under-represented in scientific and technological disciplines, will be most severely affected by the policy changes by being denied eligibility for research in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Among the signatories are the the American Anthropological Association and the American Sociological Association, the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK, the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany, academic unions in Scotland and Ireland and, nearly 20 civil society diasporic and national organisations and associations. Prominent individual signatories include international scholars of India such as David Hardiman, Barbara Harriss-White and Jens Lerche and Indian academics in universities around the world.

The letter is jointly issued by International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India (InSAF India), National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights – Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan (NCDHR-DAAA), and the DBAV Womxn* Collective.

The full open letter and endorsing organisations and institutions  is available on the InSAF India website here: