India, US double number of Fulbright scholarships

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New Delhi, Jul 4 (UNI) India and the United States today signed an agreement doubling the number of Fulbright Fellowships from the present 100 to 200, pledging to strengthen bilateral cooperation in all areas, including education.

The agreement, signed by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and US Ambassador to India David Mulford at a brief ceremony here, will also change the name from Fulbright to Fulbright-Jawaharlal Nehru fellowships.

US Congressman Gary Ackerman and the six-member Congressional delegation, that he is leading currently on a visit to India, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Special envoy on the Indo-US Nuclear deal, Shyam Saran, were among the distinguished gathering who witnessed the signing ceremony.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Foreign Secretary said the agreement wold further transform ties between the two countries which were already on an upswing.

Describing India and the US as ''natural partners,'' he said that during the past few years, Indo-US relations had followed a trend of success but more needed to be done.

The increase in the number of fellowships would further strengthen bilateral cooperation, he asserted.

Quoting the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary said he (the Prime Minister) was an ''accidental politician'' and more of a teacher and fully supported cooperation in the field of education between the two countries.

The US Ambassador said the agreement would have the most profound impact on future development of relations between the two countries.

It would contribute equally to the development of people-to-people contacts and in the field of education in both countries and help future leaders.

Describing India as a ''rising star'' on the international scene, Mr Mulford said they were equal partners and had come a long way in bilateral relations.

The agreement was initially signed by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nahru and the then US Ambassador to India, Loy Henderson, on February 2, 1950, to promote cooperation between the two countries in the field of education.

UNI RB RR HT1708

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