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'Success of IIT-Kanpur reflects US-India ties'

June 17, 2010 09:57 IST

As the Indian Institute of Technology- Kanpur (IIT-K) is celebrating its 50th anniversary, a top US official said the success story of this leading Indian institute reflects the Indo-US cooperation in the field of education.

"IIT-K has distinguished itself for a half-century for its commitment to technology innovation, much of it the result of a close US-India collaboration," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake wrote on the State Department Blog.

From 1961-1972, USAID supported the Kanpur Indo-American Programme (KIAP), which helped to bring heralded faculty members from Berkeley, MIT, Princeton and other US consortium universities to IIT-Kanpur to serve as visiting professors, he said.

"The results were transformative as the KIAP programme helped IIT-K to become one of the most prestigious universities in India and its 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee will likely be an amazing event, where substantive policy discussions will take place amongst a celebratory atmosphere," Blake said.

Blake this week met several alumni from the IIT-K who are planning an "extraordinary celebration" on July 9-10 here to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

"On the heels of the US-India Strategic Dialogue, my meeting with the IIT-K alumni underscored to me the valuable legacy of cooperation that our two countries share, especially in the area of education," he said.

"During our conversation Rakesh Pandey, an innovation and business consultant from the Boston area, recalled an extraordinary story from the KIAP-era, when a professor from MIT arrived in Kanpur for his assignment. The professor's research focused on image processing systems -- including televisions (he later helped pioneer digital and HD television) -- and to the excitement of students and staff at IIT-K, he introduced broadcast television to Kanpur," Blake wrote.

"Also, as the US Ambassador to India from 1961-63, John Kenneth Galbraith passionately advocated for an innovation-focused curriculum by helping to introduce a Computer Science programme to IIT-K, making it the first Indian Institute to offer such a course of study," Blake said.

"And to demonstrate how effective these exchanges were in fostering higher educational cohesiveness between US and India, one need only look to Dr Satish Kulkarni, one of IIT-K alumni committee members, who served as our Science Counsellor at the US Embassy in New Delhi and is now Associate Vice President of Georgetown University," he said.

Kulkarni is just one of more than 5,000 IIT-K alumni living and working in the US. "As the IIT-Kanpur's 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee fast approaches, I find myself reminded once again of the myriad ways our two great nations can collaborate to solve the most pressing challenges of the 21st century and the dynamic role the Indian-American community plays in our two great countries," Blake wrote.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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