The USIEF on Monday clarified that there was neither any change in the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowships nor are there plans to change the name or administration of the programme amid reports that India and the US have decided to sever Jawaharlal Nehru's name from the prestigious programme.
"There has been no change to the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship Program, and there are no plans to change the name or administration of the program. The name was written into the 2008 bi-national agreement," Adam J Grotsky, Executive Director of US-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) on the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowships, said in a statement in New Delhi.
The Kolkata-based The Telegraph had reported that a pact Jawaharlal Nehru had signed with the US in 1950 as Prime Minister allowed 17,000 students of the two nations to study in each other's universities. Former US senator James William Fulbright had piloted the initiative globally for Washington in 1946 as a vehicle for America's post World War II soft-power push, the report noted.
The report, citing anonymous senior Indian and American officials, claimed that new scholarships initiated under the same 2008 financial-sharing agreement will now be called "Fulbright-India" fellowships instead.
The media reports have led to a flurry of protests from various sources. IANS reported that the move was "unfortunate" and exposed the "vindictive attitude and narrow mindset" of the central government, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Monday. Gogoi also said that the present dispensation at the Centre was attempting to replace Nehru's domestic and foreign policy legacy with its own.
"The decision to shed Nehru's name from the scholarship programme that benefited tens of thousands of students is really unfortunate and uncalled for. Is the present dispensation trying to relegate Nehru's contribution in laying the foundation of modern India and his rich domestic and foreign policy legacy to the back burner and replace them with its own? Is the Centre trying to rewrite history by removing the icons of our freedom struggle," Gogoi asked.
"The Centre earlier took a retrogressive step to discontinue postage stamps on former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and belittled their contributions to the making of modern India. All these decisions expose the vindictive attitude and narrow mindset of the present BJP-led government," the chief minister said.