This year, there will be a major increase in the number of academic exchanges between India and the United States under the Fulbright Program. The U.S. and Indian governments signed an agreement on July 4th to increase funding for more scholarships.
"The agreement will have a profound impact on the future development of our young people and on relations between our two democracies," said U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford.
Established in 1946 through the efforts of U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with an appropriation from the U.S. Congress, the program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries. It provides grants to U.S. students, teachers, scholars and professionals to do research or teach abroad, and similar opportunities for foreign participants to come to the United States to participate in exchanges.
Since India began participating in the program in 1950, about one-hundred Indians and Americans have received Fulbright scholarships each year, totaling nearly fifteen-thousand scholarship recipients. With the newly named Fulbright-Nehru scholarships, both governments expect a major increase in annual scholarship awards.
Josh Feinberg, a professional sitarist living in Portland, Oregon, studied music on a Fulbright grant in Calcutta, India in 2006. He said he was excited upon returning to the United States to share what he learned about Indian culture.
"Just by virtue of me being there, I was a sort of diplomat for the U.S. And just by virtue of me having been in India, I am a sort of diplomat for India in the US," Feinberg said. "That is one of the fundamental goals of the Fulbright program: diplomacy on a person to person scale."
India and the United States have a strong relationship through their shared commitment to freedom, democracy and the expansion of economic opportunity. The Fulbright, along with other academic exchange programs, makes a positive impact on U.S.-Indian relations by promoting cultural understanding and enlightened communication.
"What we have done today will bring priceless benefits to thousands of young people in both our countries in the years ahead," U.S. Ambassador David Mulford said. "It is an accomplishment of which we can all be proud."