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US keen to deepen relationship with India: Spellings

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Washington, Apr 18 (UNI) Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has said the US is keen to deepen its relationship with India and explore opportunities for joint collaboration with Indian universities in the areas of Science, Mathematics, IT, telecom, biotechnology among others.

Secretary Spellings, who returned from a four-day visit to India and Sri Lanka says what impressed her most was the hunger for education in India,''Education is highly valued in India, perhaps it is part of a culture as it is also a constant reminder of poverty and class. Ordinary people see education as the key to overcome poverty and class differences.'' It is not that American students are unwilling to study Science and Mathematics but they lack the kind of motivation that drives students in India to opt for these subjects as well as IT telecom and biotechnology, she told reporters in Washington DC yesterday.

Saying that she had a very impressive visit to India, Spellings mentioned how she travelled to New Delhi and Bangalore along with US Senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, to learn more about foreign educational systems and the implications to US competitiveness in the emerging world market.

Spellings said she saw for the first time how India is a country of contrasts. Beside abject poverty exists a world-class technology hub. Information Technology and Software Development have propelled India to become an economic powerhouse. Most importantly India is reaping the benefits that globalization has brought about, she added.

In New Delhi, she said she met with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, who gave an idea of the recently set-up Knowledge Commission which encompasses a wide range of subjects, including IT and pharmaceuticals.

Secretary Spellings toured the Texas Instruments facility, the General Electric (GE) John F Welch Technology Center, and Infosys Complex in Bangalore, referred as the Silicon Valley of India. She also participated in meetings with Google India, the American Chamber of Commerce in India and the Indo-American and Bangalore Chambers of Commerce.

Replying to questions Secretary Spellings said that in order to meet the demands of a changing world, American curricula need to have an increased focus on maths, science, technology and critical foreign languages through the American Competitiveness Initiative.

''Halfway through my visit to India, I've been struck by the strong belief both our nations share in the power of education,'' said Secretary Spellings. ''As we work in the United States to increase academic rigour and enhance maths and science, the same focus is driving education on the other side of the world. Business and civic leaders we have talked to here agree that a strong background in maths and science is critical to success in the 21st century, she said.

There are huge opportunities for joint collaboration between the two countries in the areas of trade/investment such as Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Telecommunications, IT, Software Development as well as in agriculture, she added.

She said ''This trip has provided a powerful reminder that technology has levelled the playing field, and we must equip our students with the skills they need to compete and succeed in the new global economy. In both our countries, education is seen as the key to opportunity. Working together, we can give all our students the ability to seize that opportunity and realize their potential.'' UNI XC SHR GC1050

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