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Updated: October 26, 2009 15:04 IST

Sibal keen to forge alliance with U.S. varsities

PTI
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Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. Photo: PTI
PTI Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. Photo: PTI

With the government deciding to set up 14 innovation universities, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today expressed keenness to forge an alliance with leading U.S. universities in shaping the structure of the proposed institutes.

“We hope that we can forge alliances with one or two top universities in the United States for partnering with us in the architecture (structure) of one or two innovation universities,” Mr. Sibal, who is on a week-long visit to the U.S., told PTI here.

Mr. Sibal would visit reputed universities in the U.S., including Harvard, Yale, George Washington and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and discuss on partnership and collaboration with elite Indian institutions.

The HRD Ministry has decided to set up 14 innovation universities in the XI Five Year Plan to push research and development.

India is the obvious choice for education investment, he said and added that in the near future Europe and Australia would seek human resources from India.

“The early bird catches the worm,” he said, pointing out that while the U.S. produced 75,000 engineers annually, Bangalore alone produced 65,000.

As the service industry and the manufacturing industry are already in India, the Minister predicted that the education sector would also follow. “But the incentive could not be profit motive although universities could generate a surplus,” Mr. Sibal said.

Recalling that 88 per cent of students in India that completed the 12th grade did not go to college, Mr. Sibal stressed the need for more institutions to address the present disparity and growing needs both in terms of higher education and vocational training.

“What will they (students) do?” asked Mr. Sibal and said poverty, hunger, and illiteracy were not local issues. “It is time for the global community to realise that they have as much stake in India’s success as India has in its own success.”

He also said that strong collaboration on the academic front was needed between India and other countries to battle big problems of climate change, health and poverty.

At an interaction, Mr. Sibal asked the audience: “Why should Harvard come to India?”

“The economics of it is very attractive… educate more people with less money,” was the answer.

George Joseph, assistant secretary of Yale, told PTI that while the university welcomed the talks with the Minister, it was too “early in the process” to foresee what directions the dialogue would take. “Yale education is not complete without an exposure to India and China. This cannot be achieved in one history lesson. An intense experience requires a strong connection.”

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