IIT Kanpur was the first to flag the issue to the Union HRD Ministry and raised the matter at the meeting of the IIT Council in September this year. The Pallam Raju-led ministry subsequently shot off a letter to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary to have the issue sorted out at the earliest.
With most IITs working keenly on building their international profile and planning to host more and more foreign students and visitors for six months or even more, there is an increasing demand for a more streamlined registration process.
Foreign visitors and students in India need to register with the police authorities within 14 days of their arrival. This registration process involves verification by the police and a one-on-one meeting with the Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO).
We had taken up the issue with the HRD Ministry as we had begun to get quite a few complaints not just from visiting foreign scholars but also from foreign students enrolled with us. While the rules require that any foreigner employed in India for more than a month has to register himself with the district administration, more often than not they would not be able to meet nodal officials who are to conduct the verification process, Prof Indranil Manna, director IIT-Kanpur, told The Indian Express.
So to foreign visitors, the overall experience, delays in the process and several fruitless visits can be quite frustrating. Foreign academics staying on the IIT campus also sometimes require to get visa extension and similar problems are faced by them, Manna said.
Senior officials in the HRD Ministry confirmed that the issue has been taken up both with the UP government and the MHA. The latter is expected to ask all states where the IITs are situated to help make this essential security drill more facilitatory.
IIT Kanpur alone has over 50 foreign faculty member and has in fact recently set up an office in New York this year with a larger aim to draw talented faculty members to the institute. Several IITs had also suggested in the IIT Council meeting that drawing foreign faculty members to IITs to fill increasing vacancies was quite desirable and efforts must be made to facilitate the same.