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Sibal outlines business opportunities for U.S.- India cooperation in higher education


October 15, 2011 - New Delhi

Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal laid out a five point agenda for private sector involvement at a discussion, focusing on innovative models and delivery mechanisms for U.S.-India higher education cooperation at an event jointly organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and USIBC in Washington D.C. on Friday.

First, the architecture of education in the 21st century needs to be built, where government creates the highway and private sector creates the content. Second, U.S. universities in partnership with Indian universities and industry can engage in R and D at one-third the cost, for which the U.S. government would need to make changes to its regulatory environment.

Third, the Indian private sector can invest in creating the infrastructure for setting up new universities and faculty and scholars from the U.S. can then operate from that facility in India. Fourth, US companies like Boeing, Motorola and Ford that have large operations in India should invest in establishing educational institutions in their respective fields where both Indian and U.S. students can study. Fifth, the Government of India can fund capital infrastructure in private sector where businesses will invest by employing highly qualified PhDs.

This support can be extended to US companies in India as well with the support of the U.S. Government.

Robert O. Blake, Assistant Secretary, South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, in his remarks said that there are myriad opportunities for engagement in the higher education sector, such as online and distance learning program for students; increasing the number of US students going to India for internships; possibility of a domestic Indian peace corps program; and synchronizing the education systems in both countries.

Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, said that education is the 'final frontier' as it enables disadvantaged populations.

"Because of the sheer scale and numbers, India needs innovative models in tacking the challenge of accessibility to quality education and much can be learnt from US experiences," she added.

Sam Pitroda, Advisor to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, said that this is the decade of 'innovation and transformation', and expressed confidence in India growing at 8-10 percent.

Pitroda emphasized the need for collaborations between the Government, private sector, academia and also U.S. counterparts to take advantage of this decade of opportunity. He highlighted technology as a key enabler of transparency and democratization.

Hari Bhartia, Immediate Past President, CII and Chairman and Managing Director, Jubilant Life Sciences, remarked that one significant challenge in India is to attract the best talent into research-the government can play a role here by provisioning large research grants.

Bhartia said that clusters of academia-industry collaboration have emerged in India, such as Bangalore for biotech, and this is a trend that needs to be scaled up, and collaboration with U.S. institutions can help facilitate this.

The session also featured notable people like P Rajendran, Chairman, CII National Committee on Higher Education and Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, NIIT Ltd; Dr. P.V. Ramana, Chairman, ITM Group, Dr. Robert Brown, President, Boston University; Mr. Avinash Vashishtha, Chairman and Managing Director, Accenture; Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Ron Somers, President, US-India Business Council.

The discussion session was organized on the sidelines of the first ever U.S.-India Higher Education Summit, which took place on October 13 in Washington D.C. and drew academics, private sector participants and government officials to discuss existing and future opportunities for collaboration.

ANI

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