MEA cuts grants for think tank on China

Despite proclaiming that its policy projects will not suffer on account of budget cuts, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has dealt a death blow to India’s premier China studies institute this year, axing a ₹1 crore annual grant it has received since 2010.

The Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), the only think tank on Chinese studies to partner the US-based Harvard University and MIT, has been asked to adjust and take “project by project” approval for funding from MEA.

Ironically, the grant was axed even as the ICS spearheaded the India China Think-Tanks Forum, where Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar were the main speakers. “The MEA has informed us that they will support ICS on a project mode of funding with effect from 1.4.2017, and have invited project proposals from us,” confirmed Ravi Bhoothalingam, member of the institute’s advisory board.

Sources said the ICS, which has maintained an independent platform to discuss various China-related issues like OBOR (One Belt, One Road), had disapproved of the government’s position on certain issues. Senior scholars said that a number of academic activities of the institute are likely to be impacted if the project-mode of funding is implemented. One particular concern is that the MEA axed the funds two months short of the financial year, which leaves ICS without time for adjustment. The sources said ICS does not receive any foreign funding at present. This makes its position precarious as it is left without funding options.

“We are facing a very delicate phase. Some of our programmes have been running uninterrupted for more than four decades. We will now look for funding for these projects,” said an Institute insider requesting anonymity.

New director

Apart from the issue of funding, tension has also been brewing over the selection of the new director, as the current director Dr. Alka Acharya, who led the organisation during the India China Think-Tanks Forum, will complete her term on 31 March 2017. Mr. Bhoothalingam said a panel is selecting the new director.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 5:16:40 PM |

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