The United States and India should establish joint research institutes focused on key scientific and societal challenges and make it easier for students and researchers from each country to travel to the other to study and collaborate, the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) Task Force on Expanding U.S.-India University Partnerships recommended in an interim report.
In addition, the task force urged the two countries to share and support the development of each other’s human capital and physical research infrastructure.
“The time is ripe to examine how we further develop and expand academic and research partnerships with India,” the task force members wrote in the report.
“The United States and India share opportunities to strengthen both countries’ economies by enhancing educational attainment and investing more in research and development. We also share certain fundamental values and ideals. Both nations’ institutes of higher education are committed to values including academic freedom and scholarly excellence, while our people share a commitment to democratic ideals and universal human rights such as freedom of expression, free inquiry, and the open exchange of knowledge and information,” the report said.
By the middle of this year, India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country, according to recent United Nations estimates. India also has the advantage of having a significantly younger population: more than 40% of its estimated 1.4 billion people are under 25. Its economy is also among the fastest-growing in the world, recently outpacing France and the United Kingdom to rank fifth globally in nominal gross domestic product.
‘Intentional Cooperation’ Essential
Indian leaders “recently opened the door to increasing foreign university collaboration,” according to the task force’s report. They have committed to making significant new investments in a number of scientific fields, such as deep ocean research, sustainable agriculture, virology, advanced manufacturing, climate change, and hydrogen energy research and development, and also announced plans to establish a new National Research Foundation.
“These domestic initiatives have been coupled with a series of international agreements with the United Kingdom, France, and Australia aimed at creating innovation partnerships that could serve as models for future collaborations with the United States,” the task force said. “More intentional cooperation between leading Indian and U.S. research universities can bolster the science and technology initiatives conducted by both nations.”
The interim report—the release of which was timed for the state visit of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June—is “a key first step in better leveraging the immense potential and resources of India and the United States to further scientific advancement, economic growth, and national security for both countries,” said AAU President Barbara Snyder.
Snyder invited policymakers and colleagues from both countries to review the recommendations and provide the task force with feedback that might improve the final report, scheduled for release later this year.