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By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  A major chunk of research grants for international relations from the Ministry of External Affairs goes into organising conferences and seminars. Autonomous bodies like Indian Council of World Affairs and RIS get the largest grant, but a major chunk of it is spent on organising seminars and conferences, data reveals. 

In 2018-19, around Rs 4.64 crore was spent towards seminars and conferences, while institutes of Chinese studies got a grant of Rs 48.4 lakh. The corresponding figures for the following year were Rs 4.84 crore and Rs 42 lakh, respectively. However, expenditure on conferences came down drastically in 2020-21, to around Rs 1.43 crore, largely due to the pandemic.

In the case of autonomous bodies like the ICWA and RIS, combined grants have been on a decline. While in 2018-19, the total grant received by the two bodies was Rs 28 crore, it fell to Rs 27 crore the next year. In 2020-2021, the combined grant was around Rs 25 crore.

While officials say conferences/seminars are an integral part of research on international relations, academic institutes say the fall in grants will lead to a gap in academic and practical work. “International relations is a practical realm of academics. It’s important to have first hand practical experience. Conferences and seminars are a great way to gain practical knowledge of international relations,” a ministry official said.

Opposing his view was a research scholar from the Institute of Chinese Studies, who felt that academic research deserved more attention. “I cannot discount the importance of seminars and conferences. They are a great way to learn things and also help build contacts for persons concerned. But to organise them at the cost of academic research is not correct. Unless there is research, it would be impossible for the persons concerned to be significant at the conferences and seminars,” she said.