New Delhi, July 4 : Ties between India and the United States took another step forward on Friday, with the governments of the two countries inking an agreement to finance certain educational exchange programs.
The agreement was signed by Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and U.S. Ambassador to India David C Mulford here, giving a further boost to the strengthening of educational exchanges between India and the United States. Significantly, the pact was signed on the occasion of the United States 232nd Independence Day.
An External Affairs Ministry release said that the agreement supersedes the Fulbright Agreement revised in 1963 (after it was first signed in 1950 between Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then US Ambassador to India Loy Henderson).
Under the new agreement, the governments of India and the United States shall henceforth implement the scholarship programme as full partners and increase by 100 percent the total scholarship amount awarded annually - to five million U.S. dollars.
At present about 100 Indian students/ researchers visit the United States from India and a 100 US awardees visit India each year under the Fulbright Programme. Under the agreement signed today, these numbers would approximately double.
The new agreement provides for expansion of the existing programme with, for the first time, (i) A direct financial contribution by the Government of India, (ii) Government of India co-chairing the Board of Directors of the Foundation and (iii) Participating equally in policy and decision-making on the exchange of Indian and US scholars under the India-US programme.
The foundation will now be called the "US-India Educational Foundation" awarding "Fulbright-Jawaharlal Nehru Scholarships and Grants".
The foundation will continue to finance (i) studies, research, instruction and other educational activities of/for US citizens and nationals in India and Indian citizens and nationals in US schools and institutions in USA, (ii) visits and exchanges of students, trainees, teachers, instructors and professors and (iii) other related educational and cultural programmes and activities.
Both Governments have agreed to endeavour to see that the Foundation's programmes of activities, research and studies will complement the bilateral initiatives announced by the US and Indian Governments on July 18 2005 and March 2, 2006 in the areas of agriculture, science and technology, sustainable development, clean and efficient energy, environment, climate change, democracy and capacity building in emerging democracies and global issues of common concern - among others - and create further awareness and understanding of India in the USA and vice versa, strengthening the 'knowledge' linkages between the people of the two countries.