Sydney Uni’s continuing engagement with India
SANDIP HOR on initiatives to develop a long and sustainable relationship with elite Indian institutions
One of Australia’s leading educational institutions, Sydney University is keen to build on its existing links with the Indian Institutes of Technology and other leading universities, covering growth areas such as medicine and health, agriculture and food security, engineering, economics and business. Their strategy is to move forward by creating deep and lasting links with appropriate Indian agencies and institutions, and by establishing research partnerships that are sustainable and mutually beneficial, so as to demonstrate to their Indian partners, including the government, that there exist long-term Indian interests.
To pursue this, a high profile 17-member delegation of academic leaders and researchers from the University visited India recently. This was the University’s third official trip to the sub continent in recent years.
The successful outcomes from the week-long visit were presented and discussed at a reception hosted by Amit Dasgupta, the Consul General of India in Sydney, in honour of the delegation.
The objective of the delegation, led by Professor John Hearn, Deputy Vice Chancellor (International) was to double the university’s engagement with India in the next five years, with an emphasis on key areas of research and academic mobility.
The intent, to show total commitment to an equal relationship and present India as a knowledge leader both regionally and globally, seemed fulfilled.
According to Professor Hearn, who was born in India, it was an important stepping stone towards building a stronger relationship between the countries, particularly at a time when safety of Indian students in Australia was still being questioned. This was reinstated by the Consul General, whose wise guidance and advice on India was highly acknowledged by the delegation.
The tour began with two general and two faculty level events in New Delhi, followed by over forty meetings and workshops in seven other Metropolitan cities, which resulted in several agreements in the pipeline with leading Indian institutions – Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, National Law School Hyderabad, Christian Medical College Vellore to name a few. During the meetings experts from both sides shared knowledge on many contemporary subjects, important to both countries, ranging from tissue engineering, telemedicine to food security. A highlight of the visit was the symposium in New Delhi on academic partnership, which included very engaging sessions on Innovation, Health and Frontiers of Science and Technology.
Sydney University has identified India as one of its top three regions for future engagement. Prior to this delegation’s visit, 14 participants in Sydney University’s new Global Executive MBA spent two weeks in Bangalore in October, led by Dr Richard Seymour and Prof. Richard Dunford from the Faculty of Economics and Business, focusing on early stage business opportunities in developing and rapidly growing economies such as India. The program, called ‘Creating and Developing New Opportunities’, was one of three units offered as part of the Global Executive MBA focusing on different stages of the business opportunity lifecycle. Participants were introduced first-hand to the challenges and issues facing entrepreneurs or managers who have created new ventures and are seeking to enter the Indian market. Dr Seymour says the opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience for the participants.
Also to be noted is pioneering work by Dr Michael Dibley from the University’s International Public Health Department on an important project called ‘Infant Feeding in India and South Asia’, which aims to improve complementary feeding and reduce child malnutrition’.
To discuss further activities with India, Sydney University is hosting an “India Forum” on 13 April 2011, where guest speakers will be Amit Dasgupta, Neville Roach, David Stuart from DFAT and Chandan Mitra, Member of Parliament India and Editor of Pioneer Newspaper.
It was also announced that on 20 May 2011, Sydney University will be conferring a honorary Doctor of Engineering degree to distinguished engineer, technologist and former President of India Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, in recognition of his outstanding contribution beyond the expectations of the person’s particular field of endeavour, which has influenced the thinking or general well-being of the wider global community.
During his visit, Dr. Kalam will deliver on 19 May the Sydney University Dean’s International/Sydney Ideas Lecture on the topic, ‘Sustainable Infrastructure Development for the 21st Century’ at the Seymour Centre. There are also plans for him to interact with an invited group from the Indian community and meet some high achieving and economically disadvantaged high school students.