Wednesday, February 21, 2007

fullbright flap

The delay and denial of approvals for a great number of Fullbright scholars planning to conduct research in India has raised a ruckus here, occasioning a weeklong, frontpage series in the Indian Express, as well as editorials bemoaning the bureaucratic control over education, etc. etc. Shailaja's story in the Chronicle of Higher Education spells out the details.

Though India's move deserves criticism and the Fullbrighters our sympathy, one has to read this move in the context of America's increasingly paranoid visa policy, which has cut deeply into the arrival of foreign students in American universities, scuttled hundreds of business trips, and seen reputed scholars sent back to their country by barely qualified border personnel when they reached US shores. One case that made headlines was the turning back at the border of Govardhan Mehta, former director of the Indian Institute of Science. But as Fareed Zakaria points out in a recent Newsweek column, the obsessive, ineffectual and insensitive attention to security (is there any reason these initiatives need to be captained by the ignorant and the rude?) is already costing the US.

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