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India, US talk education links

India and the US eyed stronger partnership in education and innovation – two critical areas in powering high economic growth in both countries — as President Barack Obama’s key aides talked shop with policymakers here at the business sessions marking the US leader’s visit.

business Updated: Nov 08, 2010 22:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

India and the US eyed stronger partnership in education and innovation – two critical areas in powering high economic growth in both countries — as President Barack Obama’s key aides talked shop with policymakers here at the business sessions marking the US leader’s visit.

“What India needs is to create the kind of climate that universities in the US have, that breeds innovation,” deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said. “Achieving that will require working harder and altering the prevailing laws a little bit. While we are grappling with what flexibilities an institution requires, we can look to the US to guide us.”

He mentioned the US model of using private non-profit universities as critical.

“The majority of top education institutions in the US are private and I do not think there is any other place in the world where private institutions exist in such large numbers,” said Robert Brown, president, Boston University. “The challenge before India today is to create a large number of quality higher education institutions that are capable to meet the demand for qualified professionals.”

Though small, India’s private education market is attracting US interest.

“We very much appreciate the opening of multi brand retail sector but opening of FDI (foreign direct investment) in the Indian education sector will also hold immense potential,” said Ron Somers, President, US-India Business Council (USIBC). “India needs to build 30,000 new colleges in the next five years and build 1,500 new universities. US and India could work together in higher education to build global workforce of tomorrow.”

However, Somers underlined that the process would be lengthy as US needed to pass enabling laws.Speaking at another session on innovation, Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations, said there were schemes such as the Unique Identification (UID) project in which India had emulated the US and a $1-billion (R 4,400 crore) fund to promote new ideas for inclusive development and innovation.

The fund is aimed to be raised through public private partnership model.

“It’s early to talk about the fund as we are still working on it. We have identified 20 leading innovator czars and are writing letters to invite them for a conference,” Pitroda said.