Published: 25th February 2021
Now, colleges do NOT need prior permission from MEA to hold webinars, after academia protest
All government and government-aided institutes were asked to get the approval for not just the event and its topic, but the participants would also have to be cleared too
The central government has withdrawn the November 2020 order that said that government-aided institutions needed to get prior official clearances for conducting online international conferences and webinars. The decision came after stern criticism from academics and students.
The Ministry of External Affairs had issued the “restrictive” order on November 25. In a new order on Wednesday, however, it said the guidelines issued on November 25 are “no longer applicable.”
The Ministry of Education too had on January 15 come out with a new set of guidelines for conducting virtual conferences or seminars in educational institutions across the country. Institutes and universities were asked to "seek permission" before they go ahead with a virtual conference, and there are some restrictions as well.
All government and government-aided institutes were asked to get the approval of the Administrative Secretary for not just the event and its topic, but the participants would also have to be cleared by the office. "While giving permission, the Ministry should ensure that the subject matter for online events is not related to the security of State, Border, North East States, UT of J&K, Ladakh or any such issues which are clearly/purely related to India's internal matter(s)," read the office memo.
“In view of the easing of restrictions on travel and assembly of people by the government of India, and state governments, guidelines issued… (on) November 25 regarding political clearance for international conferences/seminars/training etc due to Covid19 pandemic are no longer applicable,” reports quoted the order as stating.
Even though the new order says that the November 25 guidelines were "prompted by the pandemic", the earlier order had mentioned nothing of the sort. The original order had on the other hand said that MEA’s instructions were based on “references” it had received regarding clearance for international conferences.
The latest order scrapping the November 25 guidelines restores the status quo ante on the conducting of webinars, which is going back to rules framed by the Home Ministry around 2008 regarding international conferences in India. However, these were related to physical seminars and has nothing specific about online events.