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India-U.S. ‘Connect to India’ Initiative Proposed

Indian Human Resource Development and Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.S. India Higher Education Dialogue in Washington, D.C., June 12. (Press Information Bureau photo)
  • WASHINGTON, United States

    The second U.S. India Higher Education Dialogue was held here June 12 with Indian Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as co-chairs, with both the U.S. and India drawing ambitious plans for closer cooperation in education and research.

    Opening the dialogue, Sibal said the digital world is challenging the lecture-driven teaching traditions of the university. With open content and open access, we are seeing the early emergence of a meta-university. The Internet and the Web will provide the communication infrastructure, while the open-access movement and its derivatives will provide much of the knowledge and information infrastructure.

    Speaking on the need to appreciate, manage and preserve diversity through education and learning by experience, Sibal said global students would understand and learn about management of diversity in India far better than elsewhere in the world. 

    Sibal proposed to launch a "Connect to India" initiative that will offer U.S. students opportunities to spend some time in India’s quality institutions to learn about the life, society, culture, economy, polity and business in India.

    Clinton said the dialogue not only represents the commitment of both the governments but also of both societies to provide more opportunities to the youth to achieve their aspirations. Clinton highlighted three main focus areas — work force development; research in grand challenge areas like sustainable development, energy, public health; and developing open education resources.

    Both sides appreciated that there is immense scope of working together on various areas in research and innovation. 

    Some of the areas identified for research and innovation are: public health, including medical technology, green energy and environmental studies; cyber security; leveraging technology for education leading to e-learning; and sharing of best practices in innovation and incubation.

    The meeting was followed by the announcement of awards under the Singh-Obama Knowledge Initiative

    “Today, we are announcing the first round of eight awardees from the Obama-Singh, Singh-Obama 21st Century Knowledge Initiative,” Clinton said. “I’m very excited about the four American-led projects. One, directed by Cornell University, will create a public-private partnership to improve agricultural education in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Another, with the University of Michigan at the helm, will raise the quality of training for healthcare professionals throughout India. Rutgers University will run a project to build the capacity of India’s institutions of higher learning. And the University of Montana and its partners will examine climate change and its effect on agriculture in India.”

    Clinton added that the U.S. had taken steps forward with the U.S. Passport to India program, an effort to enlist the private sector and nonprofit groups in creating more options for American students who want to learn in India. 

    “And I’m pleased to announce today that seven companies have agreed to support internships or service-learning projects for 225 American students over the next three years,” said Clinton.

    “American students will soon be doing cutting-edge research with Microsoft in Bangalore, developing new energy solutions at Honeywell UOP, and working on service projects with local NGOs.” 

    Clinton also applauded the Indian government “for your commitment to send junior faculty to the United States for postdoctoral research, as well as for the Higher Education web portal you are launching to foster collaboration and exchanges.”

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