Indo-U.S. collaboration in education has been a success story, with over 100,000 Indians currently pursing studies in the United States, American Ambassador to India Nancy Powell has said. She was speaking at a function organised here to felicitate Mahatma Gandhi University for winning the award of research grant under the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative (OSI).
Ms. Powell said that there was an increase in the number of students moving between the two countries. “We are proud that more than 100,000 Indians are currently studying in the United States, almost double the number from 10 years ago. And, we have seen a 44 per cent increase in the number of Americans studying in India over the last year. This cross-fertilisation helps both countries as these students are able to bring more global perspective to their work in both the public and private sector.”
MGU is the only State university in India to have been selected for the grant.
Ms. Powell said that the OSI programme was designed for institutions to launch innovative projects to advance scholarship and teaching and promote reliable long-term communication between partner institutions. “Each proposal involved a partnership between U.S. and Indian universities. In June this year, the first eight grants were awarded.”
“MGU in partnership with three universities in the U.S., Brown University, Duke University and Plymouth State University, submitted a project entitled, ‘An Interdisciplinary and Community- oriented Approach towards Sustainable Development’ [proposed by the university’s School of Environmental Studies and the Advanced Centre of Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development].
The project has received a grant of $250,000 in funding over the next three years. The next round of proposals has been launched,” she said.
There was a key strategic partnership between both countries on the education front, she said, pointing out the U.S. Fulbright programme as a shining example of this.
“Since its inception, more than 17,000 Indians and Americans have benefitted from these fellowships,” she said, adding that the annual higher education dialogue between the two governments provided strong evidence of the strong joint ties.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the selection of MGU for the grant was beneficial to the State as the proposed research covered key sectors such as food security, public health and climate change. He expressed the hope that the research would yield solutions to pressing problems in the fields of energy production and water management.
Minister of Education P. K. Abdu Rabb; Mahatma Gandhi University Vice-Chancellor Rajan Gurukkal; and Consul-General of the U.S. Consulate in Chennai Jennifer McIntyre, attended the function.
MG varsity officials said its project had three major programmes: “Clean water and better sanitation through community rainwater harvesting and biogas systems for improving the lifestyle of an impoverished community” carried out in collaboration with Brown University; “Clean energy: an alternative route to fuel cell through chitosan based nano-membranes” to be conducted in tandem with Duke University; and “Livelihood adaptations and sustainable development of indigenous communities in the Kerala Western Ghats” to be done along with Plymouth State University.