Chinese teachers having trouble getting Indian visas

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Jan 14 18:50:05 UTC 2009

Chinese teachers hardly get Indian visa: Chinese diplomat
14 Jan 2009, 1020 hrs IST, IANS

KOLKATA: There is a rising demand in India to learn the Chinese
language, but New Delhi is hardly issuing visa to teachers from China,
Beijing's top diplomat here. "There are no native Chinese teachers to
teach the language to Indians since April 2008 despite the growing
demand to learn the language," Consul General Mao Siwei said in an
interview here. "The main problem is they don't get Indian visa
easily. They are not directly denied the visa but the procedure is
delayed for so long that the teachers ultimately give up," Mao said.

The diplomat said the increasing appeal for Chinese language followed
rising trade between India and China in recent years. "There is a
growing demand to learn Chinese among Indian businessmen because
English is not our national language and not the medium for
instruction too. Very few Chinese in China understand English." Asked
why he thought India needed Chinese language teachers from China, he
said the language was "different" from all others. "Chinese is a
totally different language and a bit difficult too. Unlike other
languages that have several thousand syllables, Chinese has only a few
hundred. Hence a lot of them have the same pronunciation. There are
same words with different meanings and the difference in meaning is
based on tunes.

"For example, the word 'ma' pronounced in four different ways has four
meanings - mother, jute plant, horse and quarrel," Mao said. Mao said
that Indian teachers of Chinese language cannot give the "correct
pronunciation that is required for beginners to learn the language as
well as be understood by Chinese people". According to him, under an
agreement by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Chinese
education ministry, every two years two teachers from China should be
sent to India at one or more universities and two teachers from India
will go to China to teach Hindi at Beijing University.

"There was a Chinese teacher at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi a
long time back. After his two-year term got over, we have not been
able to send anyone to take his place. The same goes for two teachers
at Santiniketan University in West Bengal and Delhi University," he
said. The consul general said the main problem lay in getting an
Indian working visa. "I don't know, but for some unknown reasons,
Chinese teachers are not being given Indian visa easily. Even teachers
at Santiniketan and Delhi universities got their visa with much

"After the teacher from Santiniketan returned to China, the Chinese
education authorities assigned a teacher to take his position. The
lady waited for several months for the visa. Ultimately, she went to
some other country."

There is a cell under the Chinese education ministry to promote the
language abroad.

Mao said a working visa does take some time to get cleared, but "the
procedure can't be delayed forever like this". He added there was
nothing the Chinese authorities can do about it.

"It is the sovereign right of the Indian government to issue or reject
visa. So we cannot say much about it apart from requesting the
authorities to issue visa to our teachers in a quicker way so that we
can help Indians who are willing to learn Chinese.

"It will be best if the (Indian) government can chalk out a special
policy for Chinese teachers."

Mao added that Sino-Indian relations were on the upswing.

"Now that political relations between India and China are quite good,
we should work at increasing cultural exchange too. Unless we know
each other's culture, it's difficult to understand each other's

It is only because of India that China is a Buddhist country, he said.

"Issues like visa hazards hold us back. The (new Indian) policy must
be more flexible to increase cultural exchanges.

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