India and the United States are natural allies, especially in the field of education, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said and stressed that there is immense potential to strengthen collaborations between educational institutions of the two countries.
He was speaking during a virtual roundtable on 'Advancing India-US Education Partnership' on Wednesday. The roundtable was organised by the Embassy of India in association with its five consulates in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston and Atlanta.
"India and the US are natural allies, especially in the field of education. There is a lot of potential to strengthen collaborations between India and US educational institutions, specifically in interlinking industry, academia and policymakers," Pradhan said.
He said India's National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has opened up the mobility of students and teachers across the globe and it encourages research partnerships and mutually beneficial educational collaborations.
"To align with the prime minister's announcement at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, India's education system must be ready to align with the global aspirations and NEP 2020 allows for such an alignment," he added.
The roundtable was attended by presidents, chancellors and representatives from 20 American universities including University of Colorado, New York University, Rice University and University of Illinois etc.
All American participants agreed that NEP 2020 was a welcome announcement and that the removal of restrictions, particularly bureaucratic hurdles, from the field of education would be mutually beneficial for both India and the US on all fronts, especially economic.
Representatives of most American universities said that they would like to partner with India on some specific topics of interest -- cybersecurity, healthcare, biotech, artificial intelligence, data sciences, agriculture, climate change and sustainability.
They said they would like to encourage research collaborations and linkages with the existing partners as well as explore new relationships with educational institutions in India.
In his address, India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said Office of International Affairs has been set up in more than 150 universities across India.
New guidelines have been issued for India's higher education institutes to move ahead in research at the international level. Regulations for embedding internships in general education have been set into motion. The government proposes to set up a national research foundation to further improve the research ecosystem in the country, he said.
"All these provide huge opportunities for US institutions. We could now look at two-way student and research mobility: US students can do short-term courses or some semesters in Indian institutions. We could certainly have more student and academic exchanges as well as joint research programmes," Sandhu said.
"Education institutions in both countries can also explore joint projects in third countries including in Africa, Latin America and Indo-Pacific. The top political leadership of both countries have spoken about it," he said.
University Grants Commission chairman D P Singh, All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) chairman Anil D Sahasrabudhe, Jawaharlal Nehru University vice chancellor Jagadesh Kumar and others attended the roundtable.
Indian speakers noted that this is the right time to leverage the India-US partnership and their common areas of interest, education being the most important of all.
Of late, India has intensified its interactions with American educational institutions. Ambassador Sandhu alone has interacted with more than 120 university presidents.
The embassy has been organising several interactions between Indian and US educators and experts to explore ways to deepen the education partnership.