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IIT Delhi is the coordinating IIT for the initiative. (HT)
IIT Delhi is the coordinating IIT for the initiative. (HT)

India formally rolls out research fellowships for Asean students

  • The fellowship programme welcomes students from 10 Asean countries to pursue doctoral studies at the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology.

New Delhi: In tandem with its Look East policy, India on Friday formally rolled out a research fellowship programme and welcomed students from 10 Asean countries to pursue doctoral studies at the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

But the number of students who joined the programme at the IITs are far below the number it targeted. While India was looking to attract 250 Asean fellows in the first year, only 42 candidates were shortlisted after two rounds of applications, according to data on the official website of the programme.

The programme was originally announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018. As per the plan, India had expressed its commitment to offer 1,000 fellowships to Asean students over a three-year period, with 250 students getting the fellowship on year one, 300 on year two and 450 the year after. India has said that it will spend 300 crore on the initiative and has earmarked 33 crore in 2020-21 budget but it may not be able to spend that looking at the low enrolment in the programme this year.

The initiative has multiple benefits. While it will improve diversity of top IITs campuses and is a step in the direction of internationalization of higher education in India, the move is also seen as part of India’s Look East policy and a step to boost diplomatic ties with Asean countries through education and research as well as help build their technological manpower need.

“The academic and research ties among India and Asean member states will be mutually beneficial for both the regions. It will further strengthen our ties in culture, commerce and connectivity," education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said during the event to welcome the first group of students. He said it will open many doors to synergies in the field of technology and research for the academicians, researchers and the scientists from India and Asean.

Higher education secretary Amit Khare said the new National Education Policy (NEP) will bring transformational change in the education system of India and it will promote R&D and internationalization of education.

Ambassadors and high commissioners from Asean region while welcoming the move said that it will help them be ready for industry 4.0. “This is an excellent initiative to fill void in education cooperation between India and Asean. It will be India’s contribution to the education and upskilling of Asean’s IT capacity, and to the closer collaboration between India and Asean and to our common digital transformation in IR 4.0," said Sidharto Reza Suryodipuro, the ambassador of Indonesia to India.

Pham Sanh Chau, ambassador of Vietnam, said the Asean fellowship programme will help “to train a generation of Asean leading technological engineers in well-known Indian Institutes of Technology."

IIT Delhi director V. Ramgopal Rao, whose institute is the coordinating IIT for the initiative, said the programme “will encourage the Asean students to learn in some of India's finest institutions and learn from the best minds. This will also bring in the much-needed cultural diversity in our academic institutions and is in line with India's Look East policy. Will be a win-win for everyone involved".

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