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India Institute launched at Birmingham university

The University of Birmingham India Institute will focus on academic research, teaching, policy analysis and debate, collaboration with corporate partners, and public engagement in culture.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2018 23:58 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
India-UK relations,British universities,University of Birmingham India Institute
File photo of students at the University of Birmingham.(Courtesy University of Birmingham)

Seeking to enhance engagement with India, the University of Birmingham on Monday launched its India Institute that will focus on teaching, research, policy analysis and collaboration across various disciplines, adding another suchcentre to the list of those at UK varsities.

Called the “University of Birmingham India Institute”, its commemorative plaque was unveiled by Indian high commissioner YK Sinha. He also joined a roundtable discussion with chancellor Karan Bilimoria and others.

The university said the institute reflected its extensive links with India, which span over 100 years, and that its aim is to “increase the visibility, impact and coherence of the university’s engagement in India”.

Sinhasaid at the launch event: “I trust that, through the India Institute, the existing bonds between Indian institutions and the university will be further strengthened, and new links forged, to address local as well as global concerns through joint research and other collaborative initiatives.”

The institute’s activities willinclude academic research and scholarship, teaching and postgraduate research, policy analysis and debate, collaboration with corporate partners, and public engagement in culture.

Bilimoria said: “The University of Birmingham is a civic university with a global outlook and there exists a special bond between Birmingham and India, which stretches back to the arrival of our first Indian student in 1909.

“For me, this is also a personal bond as my mother and my maternal grandfather both studied at the University of Birmingham. I am the third generation of my family to have grown up in India and been educated at a British university.”

According to vice-chancellor David Eastwood, the university’s researchers were forging links with counterparts in India that “will change millions of lives for the better”, in areas such as reducing the impact of refrigerated food distribution chains and helping make India’s cities more sustainable.

The university said its relationship with India began in 1909 with the first cohort of Indian students travelling to Birmingham to study for degrees in mining and commerce. Since then, there have been nearly 2,000 Indian alumni.

The launch event at the Edgbaston campus included the iconic clock tower “Old Joe” turning orange for the evening, when the university’s Barber Institute of Fine Arts presented a range of Indian arts including a Yakshagana dance performance by Devika Rao, Bharatanatyam and Kathak by BBC Young Dancer finalistsAnaya Bolar and Shyam Dattani, music from Ambika Jois and her band, and high-energy Bhangra from award-winning dance group Nachda Sansaar.

For historical and other reasons, the study of various aspects ofIndiahas been one of the most prominent themes in UK university research, particularly atcentresofIndian expertise at theuniversitiesof Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh and the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of such centres, though some have struggled to continue their activities due to shortage of funds. Several seminars and lectures by leading individuals from various fields from India and elsewhereare held in these centres.

First Published: Jan 29, 2018 23:58 IST