Questions raised on Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry’s composition of delegation, organisation of visit

A trip that began as an exercise to build bridges between Indian and Chinese youth has ended with questions about how the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports selects its youth representatives, after several male delegates on a trip to China were found to have behaved inappropriately with women delegates and Chinese translators.

Nita Chowdhury, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, had to issue a warning to delegates during the 10-day trip, which concluded on Saturday, that they would be sent back home mid-way through the visit if they did not improve their conduct, according to several members of the delegation and Indian diplomats.

This followed complaints from women representatives of “inappropriate” behaviour on the part of several male delegates.

The 100-member delegation was comprised largely students of the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), an autonomous body under the Ministry, members of youth wings of political parties and representatives of panchayati raj Institutions. All the delegates were under 35 years of age.

Male delegates reportedly used inappropriate language with female Chinese translators, prompting complaints from some women delegates. Some delegates also behaved inappropriately with some women representatives, it was alleged. Asked about the incidents, Indian diplomats said the situation had “been handled”. However, Ms. Chowdhury’s warning to the delegates was confirmed.

Some of those reported to have behaved inappropriately were from political parties. Party leaders in New Delhi were informed of their behaviour and told to warn them to conduct themselves properly. Among the political parties represented were the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Party of India, CPI (Marxist), the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal (United).

The group arrived in Beijing on July 12 and travelled last week to Hohhot in Inner Mongolia and Shenyang in Liaoning province. “The purpose of this visit is to get both of our young people going,” Ms. Chowdhury said last week.

But both the organisation of the trip and composition of the delegation have been questioned after the 10-day visit that saw minimal interaction between Indian and Chinese youth.

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