India-US institute will operate virtually; open for higher educational centres

Sep 10, 2023 12:24 AM IST

A joint statement issued after a bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the signing of an MoU between Indian universities

New Delhi: An upcoming India-US Global Challenges Institute will function virtually and conduct research in emerging areas in campuses of partner higher education institutions from both countries, people aware of the details said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden, in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden, in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI)

A joint statement issued after a bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indian universities, represented by the Council of Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT Council), and the Association of American Universities (AAU), to set up the India-US Global Challenges Institute.

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According to the statement, the institute will bring together leading research and higher-education institutions from the two countries to advance new frontiers in science and technology, spanning collaboration in sustainable energy and agriculture, health and pandemic preparedness, semiconductor technology and manufacturing, advanced materials, telecommunications, artificial intelligence and quantum science.

IIT-Kanpur director Abhay Karandikar, who will co-chair the upcoming institute, said it will function “virtually” with a programme management office or secretariat in both countries for coordination. Research work, however, will be carried out in campuses of participating institutes, he added.

“In the coming months, we will formulate multi-institutional research projects involving higher education institutions from both nations,” he said.

Karandikar clarified that all higher education institutions having expertise in different emerging areas will be allowed to be a part of various projects. “It will not just be limited to IITs. These collaborative projects will then carry out research over the next few years with some tangible research goals and outputs.”

Explaining the funding mechanism of the institute, Karandikar said the initial $10 million which has been committed for the institute will be the seed fund to kick start activities for writing research proposals. “Once the research begins, we will need more funding. They will be made available from various funding agencies from both India and the US.”

The virtual institute, Karandikar said, will have a governing council with members from both the nations, and will be co-chaired by the countries. From the US side, it will be co-chaired by AAU president Barbara R. Snyder.

“The institute will provide a platform to partner universities from the US and India to come together. We believe bringing the best minds from both nations will be able to solve some cutting edge research problems that can have an impact of creating an ecosystem of startups and enterprises,” the IIT-Kanpur director said.

The two countries also announced several other collaborations, including setting up of New York University-Tandon and IIT Kanpur Advanced Research Center, and the Joint Research Centers of the State University of New York at Buffalo and IITs in Delhi, Kanpur, Jodhpur, and Banaras Hindu University, in areas of critical and emerging technologies. And IIT-Bombay joined the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), headquartered at the University of Chicago, as an international partner.

“It is a great opportunity for IIT Bombay to work with the University of Chicago on some of the most critical and evolving technologies our nations are seeing today. Our collective strength will help bring forth impactful breakthrough innovations benefiting the society,” IIT Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhuri said.

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    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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