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Education bill will open new vistas of India-US cooperation

world Updated: Jul 13, 2010 20:19 IST

The passage of India's foreign education investment bill could pave the way for unprecedented new opportunities for education cooperation between the US and India, a senior US official said.

"Imagine the possibilities: there are already over 113,000 Indian students studying in the United States," Robert Blake, US assistant secretary of state for South Asia said.

"The opportunities for our educational institutions to tap into potentially the world's largest education market and to provide those services in India, and to help create opportunities for Americans to study in India are enormous," he said.

Noting that education was a big theme of the India-US Strategic Dialogue here last month, Blake said: "This will have tremendous benefit for the quality of education in India and the US and further reinforce the strong people-to-people bonds between our two countries."

There was great excitement about the potential for education cooperation from the private sector, he said.

Blake noted that India has managed to sustain impressive levels of economic growth even as it continues to gradually open its economy to international trade and investment, create jobs, and lift people out of poverty.

"Indian leadership will be essential in the months and years ahead as we seek to raise economic growth rates and ameliorate poverty around the world," he said.

While the working-age population of other major economies will be falling, India will have an additional 47 million workers in 2020, almost equal to the shortfall in the world's other large economies, Blake said citing former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, who now heads the Unique Identification Authority of India.

"These legions of Indians entering the workforce for the first time represent an immense economic opportunity for India and its partners - but only if they receive the education and training they will need to compete in India's globalising economy."

Noting America's educational institutions would like to do more joint work in India, Blake said: "We welcome more Indian students and would love to see a much larger number of American students seeking education in India."