At the forthcoming U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue later this month in New Delhi, the United States and India will continue to strengthen our educational ties, knowing the important stakes at hand: the potential to collectively educate and prepare millions of youth for success, while also creating jobs and growing our economies.
Recently, I met with India’s Union Minister for Human Resources and Development, M. M. Pallam Raju, who took his first visit to the United States in his new capacity to set the stage for the upcoming event and to underscore India’s determination to address a significant educational and vocational demand – educating 500 million students by 2022.
Our countries are starting from a good place – a strong commitment to educating young people in both cultures. On my most recent trip to India last February, I witnessed many Indian parents making huge sacrifices so that their children might benefit from greater opportunities.
This joint prioritization of youth was certainly reflected in Minister Pallam Raju’s visit. From his very first engagement here – a roundtable discussion with industry and education experts – he made clear his commitment to furthering the educational partnership, a cornerstone of our bilateral relationship. And while here, he met with U.S. federal and state government, industry, and academia and to explore new avenues for educational collaboration.
Development of community colleges in India is one of his foremost objectives. On this trip, he deepened his appreciation of the U.S. community college model with a visit to Montgomery Community College’s Takoma Park campus. One of the high points of the visit for the Indian delegation was viewing the nursing simulation lab, where robotic “patients” exhibit symptoms that students must diagnose and treat. It was a fantastic learning opportunity for students anywhere in the world.
Minister Pallam Raju also met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and members of the India Caucus. In his meeting with Governor O’Malley, the two discussed ways to strengthen the already strong business, educational, and cultural ties between the India and Maryland, first solidified when the Governor led a trade delegation to the country in 2011.
Describing his Washington trip as “very, very fruitful and engaging,” Minister Pallam Raju said that he is looking towards much greater cooperation and collaboration with the United States on education. His visit laid the groundwork for refining and enhancing our educational partnership and conversations begun during the Minister’s trip will feed directly into June’s Dialogue.
As I prepare to return to India for the Dialogue, I look forward to continuing this important conversation with our vital partner. Minister Raju’s visit has solidified our joint commitment to deliver high quality, cost-effective instruction for students to access knowledge. It will be exciting to witness how this relationship evolves over the months – and years – to come.
About the Author: Tara D. Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.