New Delhi: The Obama-Singh higher education collaboration announced two years earlier will be rolled out this month.
Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton will meet in Washington on 13 October to discuss the bilateral programme.
“It will give shape to the initiative announced jointly by Indian Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and US President (Barack Obama),” said an HRD ministry spokesperson.
Bilateral ties: A file photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) with US President Barack Obama in Washington in 2009.
The collaboration was announced during Singh’s visit to the US in November 2009.
India has already made public the modalities and some features of the cooperation.
Key collaboration areas will be energy studies, sustainable development, climate change, environmental studies, education and educational reform, community development and innovation, according to the HRD ministry’s proposal document, which Mint has reviewed.
India wants to set up 14 theme-based universities, promote research, train teachers and brand a group of leading educational institutes the Indian Ivy League under the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative or OSI.
With an initial funding of $10 million (around Rs 49 crore) shared by both partners, the knowledge initiative will promote increasing university linkages, junior faculty development exchanges and teachers training.
Sibal and Clinton were scheduled to discuss the programme in June but could not meet as they could not arrive at a mutually convenient date, a second HRD ministry official said requesting anonymity.
Leading higher education institutes in India are facing a 20-35% shortage of faculty, according to data available with the HRD ministry.
Central universities face a shortage of at least 30%.
To overcome this, institutes have been allowed to hire non-resident Indians and foreigners as well as opt for faculty exchange programmes.
A delegation comprising industry experts, academicians, vice-chancellors of some Central universities and representatives of industry bodies will accompany Sibal and his bureaucrats for the meeting with Clinton, the first HRD ministry official said.
“When you want to establish yourself as a knowledge economy, such cooperation are vital as we need to adopt best practices,” said S.S. Chawla, a senior director, education committee, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, an industry body.
Chawla said he is likely to be a part of Sibal’s delegation.
The HRD ministry’s proposal document details how specific jobs are to be executed.
“Projects focusing on curricular reform should describe the existing curriculum and the courses targeted for revision, and should explain how exchange activities will result in the restructuring of the current content to incorporate the new academic themes,” the note says. “The proposal should describe the topics and content of any new courses or educational materials that will be developed and introduced, and should identify those persons who will be responsible for developing the new courses and for teaching them,” it adds.
The programme will “foster institutional partnerships. It is a part of the larger strategic dialogue between India and the US,” said Adam J. Grotsky, executive director of the US-India Educational Foundation that will monitor the initiative. “Both countries recognize the importance of cementing relationships through the avenue of higher education, and the OSI grants will help seed new projects and programmes,” he added.