Joint Celebration of the ‘Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Day (ITEC Day) and the ‘International Students Day’ on 8 February 2013
The annual get-together of the ITEC participants and Sri Lankan students who studied in India under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Scholarship Schemes was celebrated on Friday, 8th February, at Hotel Taj Samudra.
S.B. Dissanayake, Minister of Higher Education, Government of Sri Lanka, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. About 400 alumni of Indian institutions, coming from various parts of the Island, attended the reception.
In his welcome address, Mr. P. Kumaran, Acting High Commissioner, thanked the Minister for gracing the function as the Chief Guest and appreciated the participants for turning out in large numbers from all over the Island, travelling long distances.
He noted that the ITEC programme and the scholarship schemes were key elements of the ‘Knowledge Initiative’ launched during the visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India in June, 2010.
He conveyed that ITEC, initiated in 1964 as India’s bilateral programme of assistance, was being constantly re-designed and refocused, based on the evolving needs of India’s partners, including Sri Lanka. Noting that Sri Lanka was the topmost partner country of ITEC, with over 200 senior Sri Lankan state sector officials going to India annually for training in over 100 Courses.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest, S.B. Dissanayake, lauded Maulana Azad’s leading role in laying the foundation of India´s school and higher education system, including the renowned institutions of national importance such as the Indian Institutes of Technology. Minister Dissanayake appreciated India´s valuable scholarship assistance for Sri Lankan nationals and acknowledged that these educational and technical scholarships helped bridge the gap between demand and supply for such programmes in Sri Lanka, as well as in meeting the increasing aspirations of the people.
A number of alumni shared their experiences of studying and attending training programmes in prestigious institutions in India and how the experience enriched them culturally and spiritually, apart from helping them fulfill their professional roles and duties in their country.
The International Students’ Day is observed every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of Independent India and Founder President of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR). India provides over 270 educational scholarships and highly subsidized self-financing slots annually through the ICCR Scholarship Schemes to meritorious Sri Lankan students to pursue undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral degrees in some of the topmost universities in India. The Government of India would be spending Sri Lankan Rupees 2.5 billion over a three-year period for this purpose.
The ITEC programme was launched nearly 50 years ago, in the early 1960s, as India’s bilateral programme of assistance in the field of human resource development. Sri Lanka is one of the most important partner countries for the ITEC and the Colombo Plan scholarship programmes. Nearly 200 training slots are allocated annually for capacity-building and training in diverse areas like IT, English language, management, rural development, finance, mass communication, remote sensing, etc.
During the year 2012-13, a total of 215 training slots have been earmarked for Sri Lankan candidates. The entire cost of travel, training and stay is borne by the Government of India, along with payment of a living allowance of INR 25,000/- per month, book allowance @ INR 5,000/-, study tours including visit to places of historical importance and medical facilities.
- Asian Tribune -