German prof e-mail row: Minister blames misunderstanding

In the wake of the rejection of an Indian student's internship request by a professor in Germany citing the "rape problem" in the country, Union Minister Gen (retd) VK Singh on Tuesday said that differences of opinion exist and issues caused due to misunderstanding would go away.

New Delhi: In the wake of the rejection of an Indian student's internship request by a professor in Germany citing the "rape problem" in the country, Union Minister Gen (retd) VK Singh on Tuesday said that differences of opinion exist and issues caused due to misunderstanding would go away.

"Differences of opinion we do find in other countries also. It is not about differences of opinion, it is about the end result... I am quite sure that certain things, which at times get created because of misunderstanding and misapprehensions, will go away. It is not for us to do that," said Singh, the Minister of State for External Affairs.

Asked by reporters whether the issue should be taken up at the government level, he said, "I am quite sure a lot of things are happening which need not be discussed outside the parameters of the ministry."

Singh said the media has great responsibility as far as this particular issue was concerned.

Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger of Leipzig University in Germany had rejected the internship application, saying she does not accept any Indian male students for internship.

"Unfortunately, I don't accept any Indian male students for internships. We hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support. I have many female students in my group, so I think this attitude is something I cannot support," Sickinger reportedly said in an email.

Taking note of the incident, German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner wrote a strongly-worded letter to the professor following which she apologised for her "unwarranted remarks" in the rejection letter to the student, whose identity is not known.

"I have made a mistake. I sincerely apologise to everyone whose feelings I have hurt," Beck-Sickinger was quoted as saying in a release here issued by the German embassy.

In his letter to the professor, Steiner had said, "Let's be clear: India is not a country of rapists."

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