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Obama-Singh 21st century Knowledge Initiative 'Indo-US joint university partnership'

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Obama-Singh 21st century Knowledge Initiative 'Indo-US joint university partnership'

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US President Barack Obama’s maiden visit to India materialized from November 6 to 9, 2010. Obama was accorded with a rousing welcome and he and his wife Michelle Obama were treated to a slice of emerging India. Obama received a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi and said that both India and the US are the world’s largest democracies sharing certain values and their relationship will definitely be a defining one in the 21st century.

India is now one of America’s top trading partners and US is implementing nuclear civil agreement. In addition, other areas of co-operation including new partnerships in climate change, education, counter terrorism and security etc. have been introduced.

In order to strengthen this relationship the University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced an open competition for Obama-Singh 21st century knowledge initiative and has invited proposals from institutes. This is a joint initiative of the Indo-US government and primarily focuses on higher education partnerships between the US institutions and institutions of higher learning in India.

The basic idea is to promote mutual understanding, educational reforms and economic development through exchange visits of faculty, administrators and post graduate Indian students and the US graduates who can demonstrate the ability to work independently within a time frame of three year period and thereafter the results of the project implemented will be evaluated.

The proposals of each institute should justify and demonstrate their participation for the project that they are proposing. The proposals should explain how each participating institution will utilize the project to address both institutions’ needs as well as larger needs of both the countries.

 In addition to demonstrating how the applicant institution can assist its partner to meet institutional goals, proposals should also explain how this co-operation will enable the Indian institutions to address its own needs. Accordingly, applicants should describe the needs and deficiencies as well as the capabilities and strengths of the Indian institution, and how each institution will contribute to, and benefit from, the achievement of project objectives.

 The proposals must realistically assess institutional capacities and contain compelling objectives that address institutional needs and justify a request for support. To be competitive, proposals should demonstrate that the participating institutions are committed to mutual support and co-operation in project implementation.

  The following fields are eligible for the area of study:

• Energy Studies

• Sustainable Development

• Climate Change

• Environmental Studies

• Education and Educational Reform

• Community Development and Innovation

The proposal should demonstrate that a project’s objectives are feasible to achieve within a three-year period through a series of exchange activities that take into account prevailing conditions in India and the United States. The proposal should also describe the composition and size of the student and faculty population and any other group that will benefit from the innovations to be introduced through the project.

 Except for translators, interpreters, and outside evaluators, participation in the exchange visits is limited to teaching faculty, researchers, and Indian post-graduate students, US postgraduate students and administrators from the participating institution(s). Post-graduate students are eligible to participate in exchange visits if they have teaching or research responsibilities or are preparing for such responsibilities. The grant recipient is responsible for providing invitation letters for the US participants applying for Indian Study Visa.

The proposals should explain how project activities will be administered both in India and the US in ways that will ensure that the project maintains a focus on its objectives while adjusting to changing conditions, assessments and opportunities. The Universities /Institutions recognized under Section 2 (f) and 12 B of UGC Act are eligible to receive the grant.

The programs must maintain a non-political character and should be balanced and representative of the diversity of American and Indian political, social and cultural life. “Diversity” should be interpreted in the broadest sense and encompass differences including, but not limited to ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, caste, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status and physical challenges.

 Applicants are strongly encouraged to adhere to the advancement of this principle both in program administration and in program content. The program will include institutions and individuals representing geographic diversity, diverse students’ population and those oriented towards service to their local communities.

 The UGC would provide the funding to the selected institutions under this program in installments and the awardee institutions will be under obligation to submit an audited Utilization Certificate for the previous grant which will facilitate the Commission to sanction/release subsequent admissible grants. It is mandatory on the part of the awardee institution to submit item-wise, year-wise audited Statement of Expenditure along with the Utilization Certificate for settlement of the grants sanctioned by the UGC. There is no predetermined number and amount of grants to be provided and the decision of reviewers/Commission in this regard shall be final and binding.

The initiative taken by the UGC for the challenging knowledge initiative shall go a long way in fostering and cementing the Indo-US relations and enable the younger generation to come on a common platform and understand each other better.

The much-awaited university partnership will finally kick off next spring. The first leg of the USD 10-million initiatives will involve faculty from science and technology institutions in India and the US.

For further information and guidelines the participating institutions may visit the website: www.ugc.ac.in

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