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Diaspora Varsity, Fulbright Program Get a Boost

September 2008
Diaspora Varsity, Fulbright Program Get a Boost

“MAHE and MOIA Hope to Attract NRIs/PIOs” is not tech speak. It won’t look odd as a newspaper headline in acronym-friendly India. Translation: Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs). The idea here is to set up the first NRI-PIO University in Manipal, Karnataka, and offer world-class education to students who want to study in India. About 50 percent of the seats will be reserved for the offspring of NRIs/PIOs. More such universities are tentatively planned, especially in states that have large diaspora populations outside India. The following five states send the most number of migrants: Kerala, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Also worth mentioning is the Fulbright program, which recently got a boost from the American and Indian governments. Now called the Fulbright-Nehru Scholarships, this revamped program makes the U.S. and India equal partners. It more than doubles the number of scholarships awarded every year. Until now, about 100 students had been chosen from each country for fully paid studies in the other country. Initially that number will be raised to 240. Close to 15,000 Indians and Americans have participated in the Fulbright program since its inception in 1950. The eventual goal, Ambassador David Mulford points out, is to award 1000 annual scholarships with the help of private donors. Playwright Girish Karnad, journalist Kuldip Nayar, sociologist Nathan Glazer and economist Leonid Hurwicz, who won a Nobel Prize last year, are just a few examples of former Fulbright scholars.

American universities are also stepping up their efforts by establishing more exchange programs in India. Though there has been a slight rise in the number of students going from the U.S. to India, the traffic is mostly in the other direction—overwhelmingly. While the U.S. attracts 84,000 students from India, making that the highest among all nations, only about 1700 Americans go to India every year as students.

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