Chinese teachers hardly get Indian visa: Chinese diplomat

January 14th, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 14 (IANS) There is a rising demand in India to learn the Chinese language, but New Delhi is hardly issuing visa to teachers from China, says 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 told IANS.

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 difficulty.

“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 hearts.”

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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