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US and India step up higher education cooperation

On 25 June, the U.S. Department of State announced eight new institutional partnership projects between India and the United States for the second Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative awards. The projects, which address issues such as health, sustainable development, energy, training and human resources, will receive USD 250 000 each (for a total of USD 2 million) over a period of three years. The Obama-Singh initiative was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama in November 2009, each government pledging USD 5 million to the cause. It was designed to strengthen collaboration and to build partnerships between American and Indian higher education institutions. This year’s partnerships include a Harvard-India Nutrition Initiative between the Harvard School of Public Health and St. Johns Research Institute of Bangalore. Besides this initiative, four memorandums of understanding were also signed during the U.S. – India Higher Education Dialogue held in New Delhi on 25 June, to perk up India’s education system. One of them establishes a partnership between the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay and edX, an online platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Another memorandum was signed between the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to set up community colleges in India. The two remaining memorandums concern cyber systems and cooperation on capacity development. In addition to these pacts, other initiatives such as the Fulbright-Nehru programme (offering grants for scholars to participate in exchanges between India and America) and the Passport to India initiative (giving American students a first-hand experience in the Indian private sector) prove that together with the United States, India is gearing to upgrade its education system. U.S. Department of State - India Higher Education Dialogue, June 25