Promotion of higher education in both countries is critical.
The United States has embarked on its third U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. A critical component of that dialogue is promoting higher education in both countries so that more young people will be prepared to work in the new economy.
With this goal in mind, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced the first round of awardees from the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative. The four American-led projects include one by Cornell University which will create a public-private partnership to improve agricultural education in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
Another, with the University of Michigan at the helm, will raise the quality of training for healthcare professionals throughout India. Rutgers University will run a project to build the capacity of India’s institutions of higher learning. Additionally, the University of Montana and its partner will examine climate change and its effect on agriculture in India.
Secretary Clinton encouraged participants in the dialogue on higher education to focus on workforce development in both the United States and India. Although the middle class is growing rapidly, Indiais struggling to train enough workers to keep the economic engine going. In the future India will need to send tens of millions more students to colleges and universities. This is a challenge in the U.S. as well. Secretary Clinton suggested that the American community college model is one that could help meet this demand in both countries.
Another means of fostering deeper U.S.-India educational ties is through increased participation in exchange programs. The Fulbright-Nehru program is leading efforts in this regard.
Technology such as cloud computing has the potential to educate more students than ever regardless of where they live or how much money they have. Such technology makes it possible to revolutionize higher education, even in the world’s poorest places. The U.S. is investing nearly $2 billion in the creation of open educational resources, and India has also made progress in this area.
Together, the United States and India can improve higher education and make it available to an unprecedented number of people in both countries. This is the path to sound economic growth and prosperity.