Gandhinagar : Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar is collaborating with professional Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and global professionals to advance India’s educational stature on the international stage. The Institute is hosting an ‘Overseas Indian Higher Education Conclave’, on its campus, from 22nd to 23rd February 2019.
The Conclave celebrated IITGN’s overseas supporters and brainstormed on ways to engage more widely and deeply with professional NRIs and PIOs. Recognising that many overseas Indians contribute their time, talent and treasure already, participants at the Conclave explored models, challenges and opportunities for partnerships.
Day One (22nd February 2019) of this Conclave witnessed intellectually stimulating discussions on various aspects of overseas Indian contributions to Indian Higher Education through sessions on ‘Models for Global Partnerships: Examples and Experiences’, ‘Facilitating Global Student and Faculty Exchanges’, ‘Global Fundraising: Opportunities and Challenges,’ and ‘Leveraging Overseas Indians in Fundraising and Institutional Development.’
Speaking about the importance of this Conclave, Prof. Sudhir K. Jain, Director, IIT Gandhinagar, said, “The large number of professional NRIs and PIOs are an incredibly valuable resource that Indian educational institutions can tap for their academic and institutional advancement. Several overseas Indians serve as Visiting Faculty, Scholars in Residence or industry associates at IITGN. Many others volunteer their time and effort in fundraising or expanding out overseas network.”
Nearly 40% of IIT Gandhinagar’s undergraduate students and 75% of PhD students receive options to study abroad and other international opportunities, which is among the highest in India and three times the average at universities in the U.S. In addition, from 10% to 15% of IIT Gandhinagar’s faculty are Visiting Faculty from India and abroad.
Addressing the Conclave, Prof Nitish Thakor, Professor of Electrical, Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, U.S., said, “Science and Technology have become a global enterprise. No longer are there small pockets of excellence, example as USA used to be. So, now modern education (and research) should also be a global, and collaborative enterprise, complementing mutual strengths, talents and specialisations.”
Dr. Jamshed Bharucha, Former President Emeritus of Cooper Union, New York, and Vice Chancellor, SRM University, Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh, said, “Global exchanges are critical because Indian higher education needs radical reform. First, while India has tremendous intellectual talent, the systems of education tend to stifle imagination, creativity, originality, innovation, and risk-taking. Second, while Indian higher education is good at deep dives into traditional academic disciplines, the most important emerging areas of knowledge are not within traditional academic disciplines, but rather at cross-disciplinary intersections.”
Mr. Samir Desai, Founder and CFO, The Desai Foundation, U.S., said, “Overseas Indians can emulate social programs such as those between The Desai Foundation and IITGN to uplift rural women and children. Participating students are learning to become future social leaders and teamwork. It’s a great way to contribute to education and do good.”
Since its inception in 2008, IITGN has benefitted immensely from the support of several overseas Indians who applaud the Institute’s innovative programs and are keen to contribute to the educational development, back home in India. NRIs have been crucial in the success of several of IITGN’s signature programs, including faculty chairs, fellowships, scholarships and interdisciplinary centres. Their support has turned IITGN into a holistic global campus.
A California-based NRI, Mr Navin Doshi recently established a Chair on water and sanitation at IITGN and last month, Dr. Kiran C Patel, a renowned cardiologist and philanthropist based in Tampa, Florida, established the Dr Kiran C Patel Centre for Sustainable Development at IITGN.