India has shot down China's proposal to teach its language in Indian schools and take Indian students to China under exchange programmes, according to a report. The rejection comes soon after reports that India's bigger and more prosperous neighbour is issuing ''stapled'' visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir, rather than stamping it on their passport.
The Chinese plan was mooted as part of the celebrations to mark 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries next year. But India has shot down the proposal amid indications that China is going slow on preparations for President Pratibha Patil's visit early next year, says The Telegraph of Kolkata, citing unnamed sources.
The ministry of external affairs said the proposals for teaching Chinese and student visits were ''unacceptable''. China had initially suggested that its teachers would come to India to teach the language. Later, Beijing modified its proposal and said that ''it will be a locally administered programme'', the paper said.
China's proposal is to expand its 'Confucius Institute' of language teaching into India. But the Indian government suspects that this is a Chinese design to spread its ''soft power'' - widening influence by using culture as a propagational tool.
The Confucius Institute, started in 2004, has a presence in 50 countries, including the US, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But the institute's two pilot centres in India - at the Vellore Institute of Technology in Tamil Nadu and Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University - have not made much progress so far.
Similar institutes started by western countries in India – such as France's Alliance Francoise and Germany's Goethe Institute – have proved a resounding success with students, if not with the government.
India's attitude to China's proposal also flies in the face of recent reports that students at premier institutes like the IIMs and the IITs are increasingly taking Chinese language courses, aware that our neighbour offers possibly more growth opportunities in the foreseeable future.