India, US sign pact to double number of visiting students

July 4th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, July 4 (IANS) India and the US Friday signed a pact to strengthen their educational ties by doubling the number of students and researchers who can visit each other’s country and make the Indian government an equal partner in a flagship scholarship programme. Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and US ambassador David C. Mulford signed the pact that will double scholarship funds awarded annually to $5 million and make the Indian government a full partner along with its American counterpart in managing and financing the scheme.

The agreement supersedes the Fulbright Agreement revised in 1963, after it was first signed in 1950 between then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then US ambassador to India Loy Henderson.

The Fulbright Foundation, that earlier administered the programme, will now be called the “US-India Educational Foundation” awarding “Fulbright-Jawaharlal Nehru Scholarships and Grants”, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

About 100 Indian students/researchers visit the US from India and 100 US awardees visit India each year under the Fulbright Programme. The new agreement would approximately double this number.

The new pact entails a direct financial contribution by the Indian government for the first time. The Indian government will also co-chair the board of directors of the Foundation and participate equally in policy and decision-making on the exchange of Indian and US scholars under the India-US programme.

Over 80,000 Indians are currently studying in the US. The pact promises to add another chapter in the enduring cultural and educational bonds between the world’s two largest democracies.

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