The India-Afghanistan Fellowship (IAF) program stands as a beacon of collaboration and capacity building, fostering educational exchange and agricultural expertise between the two nations. Launched in 2010 with a vision to bolster Afghanistan’s agricultural sector, the program has empowered generations of students and professionals through higher education opportunities in India.
Origins and Evolution:
Responding to Afghanistan’s need for skilled agricultural personnel, the IAF initially offered 115 annual fellowships for Master’s and Ph.D. programs in Indian agricultural universities. Recognizing the importance of broader development, the program expanded in 2012, introducing Bachelor’s degree options and revising the allocation to 50% Bachelor’s, 30% Master’s, and 20% Ph.D. fellowships. This shift aimed to create a well-rounded talent pool equipped to address agricultural challenges at various levels.
Impact and Achievements:
Since its inception, the IAF has witnessed remarkable success. Hundreds of Afghan students have honed their skills in diverse fields like agronomy, horticulture, animal husbandry, and agricultural economics. Upon returning home, they become agents of change, driving advancements in research, education, and extension services within Afghanistan’s agricultural sector.
The program’s impact extends beyond individual achievements. It fosters cultural understanding and strengthens the Indo-Afghan relationship through academic exchange and personal interactions. Alumni networks serve as powerful platforms for collaboration, enabling knowledge sharing and continued engagement long after graduation.
Current Status and Future Prospects:
As of today, the IAF continues to offer fellowships, administered by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and funded by the Ministry of External Affairs. However, information regarding the latest academic year’s applications and ongoing activities is limited.
Looking ahead, the IAF’s continued relevance cannot be understated. Afghanistan’s agricultural sector faces numerous challenges, including climate change, water scarcity, and food security concerns. Equipping the nation with a skilled workforce remains crucial for sustainable development and progress.
While the current IAF focuses solely on agricultural studies, exploring potential expansion into other fields could prove beneficial. Offering fellowships in areas like healthcare, IT, and public administration could further strengthen bilateral relations and address critical development needs in Afghanistan.
Launched in 2010-11, the India-Afghanistan Fellowship Programme (IAF) aimed to empower Afghanistan’s agricultural sector by offering 115 annual fellowships for Master’s and Ph.D. programs in Indian Agricultural Universities (AUs). Recognizing the need for a broader approach, the program underwent a revision in 2012-13. This revamped version expanded opportunities, offering 276 fellowships (including backlog) across Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. levels. The subsequent years saw similar allocations, with 277 fellowships in 2013-14 and 61 Master’s fellowships in 2014-15. This expansion ensured a diverse pool of Afghan students could gain expertise in agriculture and allied sciences at esteemed Indian AUs under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) network.
The system comprises 54 State Agricultural Universities, five Deemed-to-be-Universities including four of the ICAR Institutes, one Central Agricultural University and four Central Universities with Agricultural Faculty. Many of them are internationally recognized for their contribution to research and human resource development. The Indian AUs spread over the entire length and breadth of the country and cater to Human Resource Development for different agro-climatic regions. All Indian AUs have excellent laboratories and other infrastructural facilities including instructional farms, good libraries, computer laboratories, boy’s and girl’s hostels and sports and recreational facilities. To provide better amenities to international students, well-furnished international students hostels are available in many AU campuses
- A fellowship will be awarded to Bachelor’s degree programme for four years and for the Master’s degree programme for two years @ INR 12,000 per month in each case and at INR 15,000 per month for three years for Ph.D Programme, out of the India-Afghanistan Fund of the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India. Any change in the Fellowship amount will be informed to the candidates.
- All expenditures towards tuition fee, hostel fee, mess, medical, contingency and travel within the country etc. during the course will be borne by the student utilizing the consolidated fellowship amount. However, a provision of a research contingency grant of INR 6,000 and P INR 10,000 per year for M.Sc. and Ph.D. candidates respectively and group insurance are under consideration.
- Annual charges of bench fee (US $2000 per candidate per year) as per SAARC countries shall be payable to the Indian AUs, and will be covered under the India-Afghanistan Fund.
- The fee structure for fellows will be as per the norms of the University.
- There is no provision to change the University, once admission is granted. However, the candidate can show his/her preferences at the time of submission of the Application form; the Screening Committee may consider the request, depending upon the availability of a seat in the respective University.
A. Must have good knowledge of English for all programmes.
B. Bachelor’s degree Programme
• For admission in the B.Sc. programme in Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry and Bachelor of Technology/Biotechnology, the candidate must have passed in 10 +2 examination with Physics, Chemistry and Biology/Mathematics or both.
C. Master’s degree Programme
• For admission in the M.Sc. programme in Agriculture and allied fields, the candidate must have a four year
bachelor’s degree in agriculture/related subject.
• For admission to M.V.Sc. the programme, the candidate must have passed B.V.Sc. & A.H. with internship before the date of registration in the University under 5 years degree programme.
• For admission to M.Tech. the programme, the candidate must have passed B.Tech. or B. E. programme.
• Overall Grade Point Average (OGPA) of 5.50/10 or equivalent percentage of marks at Bachelor’s degree level.
D. Doctoral Programme
Master’s degree in respective/related subject.
OGPA of 6.5/10 or equivalent percentage of marks at Master’s degree level.
The Afghan nationals will be admitted to Indian AUs on the recommendations of the Government of India following their nominations by the Afghanistan Govt. Information about the Universities is available on the ICAR website (www.icar.org.in) and the details of their programs, courses, and admission requirements are available on the websites of the respective Universities. The Afghan candidates desiring admission in Indian Agricultural universities will apply to their government for sponsorship. After scrutiny, the applications and recommended nominations will be sent through their Embassy to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Govt. of India. The MEA will send them to the Director, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Govt. of India, Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi. All the applications will then be sent to Education Division, ICAR for consideration of eligibility and recommending admission in Indian AUs. The final selection will be communicated by the University along with the recommendation letter of ICAR/DARE.
The fellows who are awarded fellowship should bring with them all documents relating to their qualifications in original for verification by the respective College/University at the time of admission.
Many Indian AUs require that these original documents be deposited with them which will be returned to the candidate at the time of departure after completion of the Course.