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Pranab's Moscow visit to boost India-Russia education ties

President Pranab Mukherjee being received by by Igor Morgulov, Dy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia and other dignitaries from India & Russia at Vnukov International Airport, Moscow.  

President Pranab Mukherjee landed in Moscow on Thursday for a visit aimed at reaffirming old ties between Russian and Indian soldiers who fought together during the Second World War, but also at restoring education ties between the next generation of young Russians and Indians. At least eight MoUs will be signed between Indian institutes and Russian Universities on Friday, with a high- power delegation of higher education officials travelling with the President.

Among them are directors of IIT Delhi, Mumbai and Madras, the Indian Statistical Institute, the Institute of Engineers (India) as well as the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University. “The purpose is to recognise Russia’s strength in scientific and technological research, and to build a network students and professors who can conduct joint research together,” Secretary in the Department of Higher Education Satyanarayan Mohanty told The Hindu onboard the President’s special aircraft.

Equally important, admit officials, will be finding new ways of attracting Indian students to Russia, after a sharp decline in numbers since the Soviet era when thousands used to study medicine and other high education degrees here. By 2001-2002, the number was down to 130 after the uncertainty caused by the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In contrast, the US attracts more than 1 lakh Indian students a year while, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada account for nearly all the rest of the students going abroad for higher studies.

“One reason is language difficulties in Russia, the other is that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of the scholarships for Indian students dried up,” explained Mr. Mohanty.

The MoUs will be signed on the historic Moscow State University campus that dates back to 1755, and Delhi University students can soon look forward to the option of studying some courses here as well. “There is the possibility in the near future of our students drawing credit from each of the two institutions, and I expect DU students to find Moscow an attractive destination, and likewise for MSU students to find Delhi University attractive too,” DU Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh told The Hindu.

Russian education officials say the key will also be to encourage students and universities to collaborate on research rather than only come as students, as both India and Russia are known for their high standard of innovation, particularly in the IITs. According to Edward Crawley, the president of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, along with the Tomsk University, one of the universities hoping to tie up with IITs, “Both the countries are interested in developing more indigenous economic capability. Reasons are different, but the outcome is same -- to become less reliant on products from the West or manufacturing from China.” SkolTech, as it is called, now offers courses with English as a language of instruction and hopes to attract at least 3-4 per cent of its student population from India after the MoUs are signed and 30-40 per cent in the future, according an interview Mr. Crawley gave to the Russia-India Report news agency.

Mr. Mukherjee is on a four-day visit to Moscow, primarily to attend the 70 commemoration of victory day for World War 2, and to meet with President Putin.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 6:05:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pranabs-moscow-visit-to-boost-indiarussia-education-ties/article7184061.ece

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