India-US Global Challenges Institute: A Path to Collaborative Excellence

The Global Challenges Institute, which is set to establish collaborative efforts between India and the United States, is poised to embark on cutting-edge research initiatives aimed at addressing the world’s most pressing problems. Moreover, this institute aims to facilitate the mobility of research fellows and foreign faculty members, serving as a catalyst for innovation and progress in various sectors, including energy, health, and telecommunications.

Building Bridges: India-US Partnership

The inception of the India-US Global Challenges Institute was announced following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden during the G20 Leaders Summit. This historic moment led to an agreement between Indian universities, represented by the Council of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Council), and the Association of American Universities (AAU) to establish this groundbreaking institute.

Inside the Vision: An Interview with Prof Abhay Karandikar

In an exclusive interview with EducationCenter, Prof Abhay Karandikar, the director of IIT-Kanpur and co-chair of the Global Challenges Institute, shares insights into the institute’s objectives and significance for Indian higher education and research.

Why IIT-Kanpur?

Prof Karandikar explains that the choice of IIT-Kanpur as the co-chair of the institute is strategic, as it represents not only IITs but all higher education institutions in India. The institute’s focus on critical and emerging technologies, such as semiconductors, sustainable agriculture, Artificial Intelligence, and quantum science, aligns with the collaborative efforts between India and the US in these areas.

Furthermore, IIT-Kanpur is actively working on establishing a medical school for research and technological development, a significant step in advancing healthcare innovations.

Boosting Research Culture

One of the challenges faced by both Indian and American institutions is the declining interest of students in pursuing full-time research. Prof Karandikar believes that the institute’s collaboration will enhance the mobility of PhD students, particularly postdoctoral fellows, who will have the opportunity to work in leading research laboratories both in India and the US. This dual PhD program will grant degrees from both countries, providing a win-win situation for talent exchange.

Facilitating Faculty Mobility

Prof Karandikar emphasizes the institute’s focus on faculty mobility, with foreign faculty members becoming collaborators who spend significant time at Indian universities. They will actively contribute to collaborative research projects and also engage in teaching and delivering lectures.

Operational Framework

The India-US Global Challenges Institute will function as a virtual network of partner universities. The institute will establish a governing council with representatives from both India and the US. Themes for research projects will be deliberated upon, and lead institutions in these areas will act as hubs. Proposals from these institutes and researchers will seek funding from agencies in India and the US.

While the institute has received an initial seed fund of $10 million, further funding will be required for research projects with specific deliverables and milestones.

Timeline and Initial Focus

The institute is set to begin its operations with a focus on themes related to energy, health, and telecommunications. The governing council will hold its first meeting soon, with research projects expected to kick off within the next three months.

Benefits for Indian Higher Education and Research

Prof Karandikar underscores the interdisciplinary nature of research today and the need for collaborative efforts to address global challenges effectively. The India-US partnership holds the promise of finding solutions to complex issues like climate change and pandemics. India’s strengths in areas such as cybersecurity, telecommunications, bio, and medtech make it a valuable contributor to this collaborative initiative.

The India-US Global Challenges Institute represents a pivotal step towards fostering innovation, research culture, and international cooperation in the pursuit of solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

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