Washington, DC – Indian Minister of Human Resource Development, M. Mangapati Pallam Raju, who is visiting the United States, on Monday (May 13) reiterated the commitment of his country to take the India-US Higher Education Dialogue to greater heights in the future. Raju discussed the engagement between the two countries while speaking at a policy briefing and roundtable discussion in support of the subject, “Advancing US-India Academic Partnerships,” held at the Institute of International Education.
The “sapling” that was planted by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Obama to usher in an era of partnership in higher education, “is now becoming a small tree with great promises,” said Minister Raju while addressing a select audience, including Nirupama Rao, Ambassador of India to the United States; Tara Sonenshine, US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the US Department of State; and Robert O. Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, also at the US State Department.
After an initial round of opening remarks, participants discussed the expanding academic collaboration between the United States and India, though press coverage of the meeting was not permitted. According to a statement from the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, the agenda included community college collaboration and workforce development, expanding opportunities for US students in India, and the use of open educational resources and educational technologies to expand access to and improve the quality of education.
The minister announced plans to establish 200 community colleges in India in 2013 with the active cooperation of the US, noting that, “The experience of community colleges in developing the workforce for the US in the 20th century will stand us in good stead and inspire us by example.” Minister Raju added, “We would seek further institution level collaborations and hand holding in our efforts in this regard.”
“The workforce of the future will be global, their skillsets requiring international acceptance. Community colleges can partner with us in developing the curriculum and pedagogy for the global workforce of the 21st century,” said the visiting minister.
Declaring, “Knowledge knows no barriers. USA and India have together embarked on a journey to eliminate barriers of prejudice by creating opportunities for our children to share knowledge,” Minister Raju said, “Ours is a partnership of two vibrant democracies destined to lead the 21st century. Nothing will be more invigorating for this partnership than bringing together our knowledge institutions.”
Secretary Blake echoed the Indian minister’s statements, saying that there was “no more important task” for both countries than to create jobs and that the education partnership will result in the creation of new opportunities.
Moreover, Indian Ambassador Rao noted that during the 2011-12 school year, 100,270 college students from India were studying in the US, while the previous year, 4,345 US students went to India to study.
Ambassador Rao said she hopes to increase the number of American students making the “passage to India” so that they might understand the diversity of India. “I always say India is a country waiting to be discovered by (America’s) young people,” she added.
The Indian Minister concluded on a positive note, saying that his department had initiated steps to ensure creation of a framework, “that facilitates closer and fruitful interaction between the tertiary educational institutions of both the countries … I hope that it would spur greater and closed interactive learning and knowledge creation with US institutions.”
Indian Minister Raju is visiting the United States from May 13-18. The visit is slated to provide a boost to existing collaborations with the US and to further strengthen the Indian educational system and policy frameworks. The visit comes a few weeks before the India-US Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi at the end of June, of which the Higher Education Dialogue forms an important component.
In addition to high ranking federal government officials, the minister will also meet with the Governor of the State of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, Congressmen Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), India Caucus members, as well as senior World Bank officials.
Minister Raju will also visit Temple University in Philadelphia and Boston University during the visit and will participate in the 126th commencement ceremony at Temple University where he will be conferred with its highest honor, Honoris Causa, the Doctor of Humane Letters.
In addition, he will deliver the graduation speech at his alma mater, the Fox School of Business at Temple University, where he received his Masters in Business Administration in 1985.