No matter what people say about the fizz going out of the India-U.S. relationship and the focus shifting away from the big questions such as the stalled civil nuclear deal and India’s future role in Afghanistan, it is clear that leaders on both sides are pulling out the stops to in a bid to showcase the best in areas of cooperation such as education and research.

On the one hand Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister for Human Resource Development and Communications and IT, and Sam Pitroda, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s advisor, pressed on with a whirlwind parade of investment opportunities in India’s higher education and information technology sectors.

In parallel, Indian officials joined their counterparts at the State Department to announce, with much fanfare, the first eight institutional partnership projects awarded under the flagship educational partnership between India and the U.S.– the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative.

In a formal statement the State Department explained that the goal of the initiative was to “further strengthen, through faculty exchanges, joint research, and other collaboration, partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education in priority fields, including food security, climate change, sustainable energy, and public health.”

Each project will receive an award of approximately $250,000, officials said, and those funds could be utilised over the three-year grant period to “encourage mutual understanding, educational reform, and economic growth, as well as the development of junior faculty.”

The awardees on the Indian side include Mahatma Gandhi University, Banaras Hindu University, the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur and the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. Each of these will partner with select U.S. universities.

On the U.S. side the institutions receiving awards under this initiative include Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, University of Montana, Cornell University and the University of Michigan.

Touching upon the back-story for the Singh-Obama Initiative, the State Department said that it was announced by the leaders initially in November 2009 and each government at the time pledged $5 million for this endeavour, for a total of $10 million.

The bi-national Joint Working Group created to implement the initiative is charged with providing final approval for all grants awarded and will allocate the $10 million over the course of a five year period awarding 8 to 10 university partnership grants annually, officials said.

More In: International | News