With more than 100,000 Indian students studying in the United States each year, young people in India tend to know a fair amount about U.S. cities, culture and businesses. But fewer than 3,000 U.S. students study in India annually. It's been one of my goals as Senior Advisor for Education in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs to see the number of U.S. students going to India increase. During the Secretary's recent trip to India, she announced an exciting new initiative that I hope will help American young people get to know India better: Passport to India.
Passport to India will promote internships for American high school and college students in India. Funded entirely by private companies, the effort encourages businesses to partner with U.S. schools, colleges, foundations or international organizations to commit to sponsoring American students to intern in their India-based offices and factories. Internships can be in any field, including management, graphic design, manufacturing, high technology and pharmaceutical research. They can also incorporate service learning experiences, including interning at a non-governmental organization that supports women's education or improving child health.
Internships are a great way for students to apply the knowledge they gain from school into real world environments. Most college departments extol the virtues of internships, and more and more schools are requiring students to complete an internship before they graduate. Some highly ranked schools like the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University claim to have 90 and 75 percent of students completing internships, respectively.
Passport to India will not only increase the pool of U.S. students who can communicate, travel confidently and understand business in India, it will also provide a valuable stream of potential employees to companies who need staff with not only book smarts, but international smarts as well.