Matiullah, the son of a taxi driver from Aliabad, a little-known district in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, proved his worth in the 2010 Concours exam, a general competitive exam for graduate admissions. In the nearby province, he was among the few selected to come to India to do the Masters in 2019 as a result of coordination between the governments of the two countries.
In July this year, some Afghan students returned home after completing their courses, but fate prevented Matiullah. The epidemic delayed the completion of his two-year PG program, but it came as a blessing because it saved him from the blows of the Taliban regime. “I will not go to Afghanistan until the situation returns to normal. My family is safe there and I am in touch with them. They have advised me to stay in India,” Matiullah told TOI on Tuesday morning.
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Matiullah dreamed of becoming a technocrat after returning to his homeland. In countries like Afghanistan, where the majority are uneducated, technocrats are considered a valuable asset. He was upset to see engineers, doctors and professionals fleeing Afghanistan. “I have heard about the evacuation of Afghans by the Indian government and it is a great moment. I am starting to feel safe,” Matiullah said.
The Taliban began to gain strength in Kunduz a few years ago. They had suspicions about government employees. Matiullah was then studying in India. “The Taliban do not oppose students going to study in other countries, at least for boys,” he said.
He added: “It was hard to hear the chaos when I was planning to return to the country after finishing the final year of my course. Now I can only pray that the situation improves soon.”
Most foreign students come to central government institutions in the Northeast because these institutions offer fellowships. But state universities have recently helped some foreign students get help from the ICCR, an autonomous body under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of External Affairs.
Ratul Mahanta, Coordinator, GU Office, said, “As GU is getting more exposure at the international level, foreign students are showing interest in studying here on scholarships from the Government of India.
ICCR Regional Director Madhur Kankana Roy said measures have been taken to provide safety and security to Afghan students. “These students are scholarship holders. They cannot return to their home country without completing their course,” he said.
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