S Africans not taking full advantage of Indian ITEC support

By Fakir Hassen, IANS,

Durban : Although there has been increased interest in the past two years from South Africa, the country is not taking full advantage of the benefits offered by India through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme through which it trains students in technical and scientific fields.

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That was the view of Indian High Commissioner Rajiv Bhatia as he addressed a gathering to celebrate the annual ITEC Day organized by the Durban University of Technology and the Consul-General in Durban, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

“Over the past two years, we have noticed growing interest and curiosity about training programmes under ITEC. However, it is somewhat regrettable that allocations available have not been fully utilized,” Bhatia said.

“There is a need for interested institutions and individuals in South Africa to make an enhanced effort to benefit from what is available,” Bhatia added, emphasizing that employees and officials in government, the public and private sector, parastatals, universities and chambers of commerce and industry were eligible for these fellowships.

Bhatia said the popularity of the training programmes in the Durban region had led to a decision that the Consulate General in Durban, one of four Indian mission offices in South Africa, would be the focal point for processing requests in future.

“Thus, not merely all relevant information, application forms, etc. have been made available on the website, even the office which is responsible for implementing the programme is located in this town. We encourage all of you and others to draw suitable lessons from these arrangements.”

Bhatia said that of the Rs. 500 million India spent annually on ITEC activities across the globe, Africa was the largest recipient.

“We believe this is how it should be, because India is fortunate to enjoy long-standing and warm links of brotherhood and affinity with the African continent.

“I am pleased to note that allocation of ITEC fellowships to South Africa has been steadily on the increase. The number of fellowships allotted has gone up from 75 in 2005-06 to 110 in 2007-08, an increase of 46 percent. The last increase came as part of our implementing the decisions of the Delhi Summit.”

The fellowships, fully financed by the Government of India, cover short and medium-term training programmes in various prestigious institutions in India.

Silvester Siboto, who had just returned from an ITEC course and spoke on behalf of the ITEC trainees, said: “I’ve learnt more from the course than I ever thought I would. I definitely returned home with something valuable. I feel so proud of myself because I learned so many things that were unclear to me before about the Information Technology field.”