The Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday withdrew a controversial order issued last month that required universities and professors to get prior approval from the government to hold online international conferences centred around “sensitive subjects”, events relating to national security, or which are “clearly related to India’s internal matters”.

The government cited the “easing of restrictions on travel and assembly of people” as the reason behind withdrawal of the previous order. However, the order was likely taken back after backlash from scientists, according to The Hindu.

MEA memorandum withdrawing the previous order.

The previous order that was issued on January 31, was based on the guidelines originally issued by the external affairs ministry on November 25, 2020, The Hindu reported.

Apart from universities and professors, the order also asked state government ministers, government officials, including doctors and scientists, to take permission from the ministry if they wish to participate in any such online events.

The now withdrawn guidelines were applicable to topics, such as “ of the Indian state, border, North East States, J&K, or any other issues which are clearly/purely related to India’s internal matters”. The guidelines also covered “sensitive subjects” that included “political, scientific, technical, commercial, personal [subjects] with provisions for sharing of data in any form; presentations”.

Partha Majumdar, the president of Indian Academy of Sciences, had written to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal last week requesting that the guidelines be withdrawn, according to The Hindu. He had reportedly stated that the guidelines were “overly restrictive, lacking in clarity, and detrimental to the progress of science in India, including capacity-building.”