Monday, August 16, 2010

A taste of India: Overseas universities eager to participate in India's educational revolution

Everyone seems to have an interest in the world's largest democracy. Amid the turbulence, India has emerged as a safe and growing economy, hence, attracting increased Western interest. The British Prime Minister David Cameron led the largest delegation in recent memory to India a few weeks ago. Secretary of State for Business and President of the Board of Trade, Vince Cable, who was part of the British delegation, observed, "This is the first significant business delegation the new (U.K.) government has sent overseas. That's a reflection of the importance we place on India as an economic partner".

The University of Melbourne has announced plans to establish an Australia-India Institute with the assistance of an $8 million grant from the Commonwealth Government and some funding by the university. The University of New South Wales and La Trobe University are also the founding members. The objective of the institute is to undertake practical collaborative research in a range of disciplines in order to strengthen relations between Australia and India and to promote a deeper understanding of trade, scientific, political, cultural and social issues between the two countries. Several universities and business schools worldwide have expressed interest in having a presence in India, which is more than simply an international office.

Duke University, U.S., is one such university. While explaining the importance of having a more embedded presence in India, Blair Sheppard, Dean, Duke-Fuqua School of Business, says, "It is imperative to be connected with the countries that will shape the future world discourse. Duke is keen to launch a talent identification programme in schools similar to the one in the U.S., for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Also, it wants to offer courses tailored to the Indian market".

Besides, Western universities are keen to participate in Indias educational revolution. Cambridge University, Open University in the U.K. and Yale University in the U.S., among others, plan to partner with the Indian government to establish research-intensive innovation universities. Brown University, Rhode Island, launched a "Year of India 2009-10" to build on the long-term ties and develop new ones in the fields of business, medicine and the arts. The liberal arts school has a partnership with St. Stephens College and Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College as part of its "Global Study Initiative". Matthew Gutmann, Vice-President for International Affairs, Professor of Anthropology, Brown University, says: "Our student exchange partnership with St. Stephens College in Delhi University began in 1991 and was renewed last March. Now Brown is in discussions with universities and other academic institutions in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata about new collaborations in the fields of health and environment".

The rise of India in the global education stage, however, goes beyond collaborative research, student exchange and campus presence. In the last 10 years, India has emerged as a major destination for the location of multinational research and development (R&D ) activities. According to Jaideep Prabhu, Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business and Enterprise, University of Cambridge, "A study my co-authors and I did of the Fortune 500 firms R&D centres around the world revealed that in 2008 India was the 7th most popular destination for multinational R&D (after the U.S., Germany, Japan, U.K., China and France)". Prabhu, who is also the Director, Centre for India & Global Business, Cambridge Judge Business School, further adds, "What makes this particularly impressive is that India would have rated nowhere only 10 years ago. The main types of R&D activity that have been located in Indian labs were elements of large-scale technical projects whose source and destination were developed markets".

Prabhu says a major reason for the attractiveness of India as a global research hub has been the large number of scientific and technical personnel that it offers. This is only the first phase in a fast evolving scenario. In the next phase, multinationals will use their India labs as a place to develop affordable and sustainable innovations. "These innovations will be inspired by India but will find application not only in India and other emerging markets, but also Western markets that are increasingly looking for affordable and sustainable solutions in energy, health, food and education", he adds.

This informative article is written by Malini Sen, Times News Network
Source: The Times of India (Education Times), August 16, 2010

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