Biden and Modi celebrate research partnerships

Published 15/09/2023

US president Joe Biden and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi have welcomed a new agreement between universities in their respective countries to work together to jointly tackle global issues.

The Indo-US Global Challenges Institute will be established by the Council of Indian Institutes of Technology and the Association of American Universities under a new partnership that will see US$10 million initially invested in total by both countries.

The virtual institute will aim to advance research in areas including sustainable energy, pandemic preparedness, semiconductor technology and quantum science.

It will bring together research and higher education institutions from across the two countries, including some outside IIT and AAU members.

“This is about helping all research institutions that want to engage with India”

“It’s really helping to coordinate mechanisms to encourage dialogue between faculty members and researchers at Indian universities and US universities,” said Toby Smith, vice president for policy at AAU.

“This is about helping all research institutions that want to engage with India do so,” he added.

“If they don’t even know where to start, they can plug in to the work of this institute”.

Smith said the initiative would help facilitate a “two way exchange of talent”, with US students and researchers working in India, as well as the other way round.

There were almost 300,000 Indian students in the US in 2022, according to data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

The organisations signed a memorandum of understanding, which was announced by Biden and Modi during the G20 summit in India in September.

The leaders also welcomed new educational partnerships between the countries, such as one between New York University-Tandon and IIT Kanpur Advanced Research Center.

They pledged to sustain the “high level of engagement” between the US and Indian governments, industries and academic institutions.

The creation of the institute was one of the recommendations from the AAU task force on expanding US-India University Partnerships.

AAU president Barbara R. Snyder said the institute will benefit “both the US and India equally and… will help lead us to solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the two nations”.

In a joint statement, Biden and Modi reaffirmed their commitment to developing a relationship “that advances the aspirations of our people for a bright and prosperous future, serves the global good, and contributes to a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific”.

At the G20 summit, leaders from the world’s biggest economies produced a consensus document that emphasised the importance of high-quality education and skills training and promised to encourage mobility of students, scholars and scientists across research and higher education institutions.

They emphasised the importance of expanding access to technical and vocational education and training as well as supporting institutions to “keep pace” with technological advances such as AI.

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