Calls for expansion of access of Indian, U.S. institutions to opportunities

The U.S.-India CEO Forum — a joint initiative of the two countries to promote trade and investment — has impressed upon enactment of the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010 during the monsoon session of Parliament to expand allow access to U.S. educational institutions in the country.

The Forum in its recommendations to the government has called for expansion of access of Indian and U.S. educational institutions to opportunities in each others country. Importantly, it has suggested establishing a “function” within the Accrediting Agency Evaluation Unit of the U.S. Department of Education to formally recognise reliable accrediting agencies that can approve Indian higher education institutions to issue degrees in the United States.

The key issue for India is the limited quantity of quality education at all levels and the near lack of vocational training. There is tremendous opportunity to bring to bear the U.S. capabilities in the entire education sector.

The Bill, now with the Parliamentary Standing Committee, seeks to allow foreign education providers to set up campuses in India and offer degrees.

The 24-member CEO Forum with 12 members from each side further suggests creation of a U.S.-India Educational Form, modelled on the U.S.-India High Technology Cooperation Group, to facilitate cooperation between Indian and the U.S. educational institutions and to provide a vehicle for private sector input to both governments.

Enabling vocational training collaborations like the Indo-U.S. Collaboration for Engineers, to further skill development initiatives announced by India is another important suggestion made by the Forum in its report. Facilitate efforts by reputable education service providers to produce and manage job-oriented skill development training programmes to help satisfy India's growing need for post-secondary vocational and career training, it says.

In the health sector the Forum suggests creating the scientific climate and ecosystem to encourage research and innovation in biotechnology in India in collaboration with the leading U.S. institutions with the objective of having at least one world class biotechnology research and development facility in three years which could then be identified as a centre of excellence.

Drug Discovery Fund

Advocating support for private sector cooperative research and facilitating collaboration between research institutions, the Forum supports the idea of establishing a joint Indo-U.S. Drug Discovery Fund and a bilateral government fund with matching grants to joint research projects by US-India institutions.

Calling for expediting the proposed constitution of an independent Indian drug regulatory agency, the Forum says there is a need to identify timeline for converting the present Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation into the proposed Central Drug Authority and suggests leveraging the U.S.-India relationship to adopt best practices from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

On long term cooperation, the Forum believes that a joint U.S.-India diabetes project could involve creating registries of patients and high risk population, gene banks from different ethnic groups, identification of new bio-markers for screening, diagnosis and disease management for multinational studies of alternative forms of diabetes.

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