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Friday, September 5, 2008

Scholarship Program

Fulbright up for expansion

THE Fulbright Scholarship programme that offers an exchange of around 250 scholars per-year between India and the US, through the US Educational Foundation in India (USEFI), is all set to expand its base in India in terms of funding and offering new topics of research offered under the programme. The programme, now, aims to increase the number of scholars benefiting from it by inviting private players from India, besides the government, to contribute to the funds.

Through increased funding, the programme would aim to double the number of scholars going on exchange programme. "We have been in discussion with the Indian government for amending the agreement signed by the two countries in 1950. Under the current agreement the US government offers $2.3 million per-year as funds, which includes the operating cost of the programme in India. The Indian government has not contributed funds up until now, but has provided in-kind support through tax reimbursements. We now wish to renew the original agreement as two equal partners and look forward to the Indian government contributing financially, so that the budget doubles in size," said Adnan A Siddiqi, counsellor for cultural affairs, US embassy. He was speaking at the embassy's 'Founder's Day' celebrations held recently in the Capital.

Set up in 1950 to increase cultural understanding between the US and other countries, the scholarship programme in India has benefited more than 5000 scholars each way. Its benefits are manifold. "Since the entire idea of the Fulbright programme is to increase mutual understanding between US and India, the former also invites English teachers from India to teach regional languages at colleges in the US under the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Programme."

However, a growing relationship between the two countries has led to a greater need for promoting cultural understanding between the two. "Once the new agreement is signed and increased funding is available, we would like to broaden the diversity of topics like IT, agriculture, business and management - topics that define the new India," explained Siddiqi.

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group

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