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'Direct Education ministry to withdraw memorandum'

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking freedom for the state-aided universities and urging him to direct the Ministry of Education to withdraw its revised guidelines that direct the varsities to get prior consent from the ministry for holding global conferences.

"Our universities must enjoy the highest possible degree of self-governance and freedom to conduct their educational activities in regular interaction with their counterparts abroad. Knowledge is neither created by, nor belongs to any single country or community. Reasonable regulations and restrictions are understandable, however, the restrictions imposed further highlights the intention of Government of India towards centralisation of higher education system in our country," Banerjee wrote in her letter alleging that the state governments were not consulted before the issuance of the memorandum.

She raised questions whether "it is not an attempt of the Central government to introduce thought policing in educational institutions by trying to impose 'One Nation, One Thought'?"

The Education minister on January 15 had brought out an order stating that publicly-funded universities will have to "seek approval" of the respective "administrative Secretary" for organising any "online/virtual international conferences/seminars/training etc".

Highlighting that digital platforms have become a boon for teachers and

students in rural areas, small towns and cities, she wrote: "It will not be out of place to mention that education is in the Concurrent list of Constitution and any non-consultation

by the Government of India with the state governments before issuing any such instructions to the educational institutions will be against the spirit of the federal structure

enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Such communication will only be viewed as an example of contempt of constitutional powers of the states."

She maintained that state governments are duly empowered under law to deal with

any act committed by any educational institution which violates any law or is contrary to the interest of national security.

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