Just Be Fair

In­dian stu­dents en­trapped by US au­thor­i­ties must get hu­mane treat­ment and due process

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - AN EPIPHANY OF IDEAS -

Four US law­mak­ers have now joined the cho­rus of strong re­ac­tions against the de­ten­tion of nearly 130 In­dian stu­dents en­trapped by un­der­cover agents in their at­tempts to over­stay in the coun­try. Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity (DHS) foisted a fake univer­sity whereby nearly 600 In­dian stu­dents, com­plet­ing their master’s de­gree course­work, were stung by agents dan­gling the bait of main­tain­ing stu­dent visa sta­tus and ob­tain­ing work au­tho­ri­sa­tion.

In­dian of­fi­cials af­ter in­ter­act­ing with the stu­dents say they were gullible and had come le­git­i­mately to US to study in ac­cred­ited Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties but were now fac­ing an un­cer­tain fu­ture at the fag end of their ed­u­ca­tion jour­ney. US uni­ver­si­ties are a pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion for In­dian stu­dents de­spite the for­bid­ding dol­lar costs, be­cause of high ex­pec­ta­tions of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. But the ques­tion­able meth­ods used to en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws smack of Amer­ica’s cur­rent anti-im­mi­gra­tion over­drive and prompt un­ease.

This is hap­pen­ing even as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is look­ing to with­draw the Gen­er­alised Sys­tem of Pref­er­ences (GSP) for In­dia. Un­der this vi­tal trade con­ces­sion In­dia en­joys zero tar­iffs on $5.6 bil­lion of ex­ports to the US, so it needs to raise its diplo­matic game to pre­vent such a setback. And also to make the case that In­dian stu­dents in the US fun­da­men­tally con­trib­ute to the econ­omy and de­serve hu­mane treat­ment and due process. Rather than du­bi­ous modes to en­trap vul­ner­a­ble stu­dents into visa fraud, DHS should nab those ac­tu­ally set­ting up “pay and stay” uni­ver­si­ties and com­pa­nies. In­dia also needs to re­view its own flawed poli­cies that pre­vent for­eign uni­ver­si­ties from set­ting up cam­puses here. If the US is scal­ing down the Amer­i­can dream of free­dom, op­por­tu­ni­ties for suc­cess, and pros­per­ity it should be al­lowed to flower in In­dia – by set­ting up a vi­brant and scal­able ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

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