The University of California Office of the President announced Wednesday that the Education Abroad Program in India will be suspended for the Fall 2002 term in light of increasing tensions with neighboring Pakistan.
The suspension follows a second advisory issued by the State Dept. yesterday urging more than 60,000 Americans to leave India immediately. The first warning was issued on May 31, prompting the UC to put the EAP program in India “on hold.”
The new advisory, however, caused the UC to suspend the program for the Fall 2002 term until the situation improves, UC spokesperson Hanan Eisenman said.
“The program has been suspended because there’s a military buildup and the threat of war breaking out between India and Pakistan,” he said. “When we have students overseas, our first priority goes to their personal safety.”
Although no students are in India through the EAP program this semester, 15 UC students were scheduled to leave for India later this month. One student is from UCSB.
Wednesday’s State Dept. advisory “strongly urges American citizens currently in India to depart the country. … Tensions have risen to serious levels, and the risk of intensified military hostilities between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out.”
The UC based its decision on the State Dept.’s warnings.
Staff and infrastructure will stay in place in preparation for the eventual return of UC students, Eisenman said. According to University Office EAP, no American faculty members are in India this semester since the EAP program is only offered in the fall. The remaining staff members are all Indian, a staff member said.
The recent increase in hostilities and the threat of war breaking out between Pakistan and India are the primary reasons for the State Dept. advisories and suspension of the UC EAP program in India. According to the Los Angeles Times, the advisories follow estimations in a classified Pentagon report that as many as 12 million people would die and an additional 6 million would be injured in the first weeks of a war involving nuclear weapons.
Tensions escalated between the nuclear powers last December when militants attacked the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, killing 14, including the five assailants. The UC took no action at that time because no students were scheduled to travel to India this spring, Eisenman said.
“It’s important to stress that we’ve monitored the situation all along and we just didn’t have any students there for spring,” he said. “The decision has come up because we have students scheduled to go fairly soon and the tensions there have escalated to the point where their safety is of high concern.”
The students were informed of the attack last December and warned to stay away from particular areas, said junior religious studies and classics major Elizabeth Keely, who attended school in Delhi through UC EAP in Fall 2001. Keely’s application to extend her stay in India was denied by the EAP program because of the increasing tensions, she said.
“None of us felt threatened,” she said. “Americans make it seem scarier than it really is. They have a misconception about the people and what their opinions are like.”
The decision to suspend the program in India is not without precedent. In recent years the University halted EAP programs in China following the Tiananmen Square uprisings and in the Middle East during the Gulf War. Most recently, the EAP program in Israel was suspended due to safety considerations, Eisenman said.
“We plan to return to Israel,” he said. “Again, we left the infrastructure and staff there, but first we have to look out for the safety of our students.”
The two EAP locations in India are Delhi and Hyderabad. There are no locations in Pakistan.