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Top Indian diplomat visits Tech, discusses partnerships

October 10, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - The United States and India have a mutually beneficial relationship in education and industry, which should continue to grow, a top Indian diplomat told a crowd at Michigan Technological University Tuesday.

Mukta Tomar, consul general at India's consulate in Chicago, discussed research and educational partnerships between the two countries at the Forestry Atrium.

In recent years, the U.S. and India have worked on numerous initiatives. A $30 million science and technology endowment fund was founded in 2009; three projects were recently awarded. The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum has aided in sending more than 11,000 scientists, academics and researchers between the U.S. and India.

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Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Mukta Tomar, consul general at India’s consulate in Chicago, discusses research and educational partnerships between the United States and India during a forum at the Forestry Atrium at Michigan Technological University Tuesday.

There has also been a new phenomenon of Indian companies making investments in the U.S. Last year, Indian information technology companies spent $500 million in the U.S. and supported 280,000 jobs.

"They are not only creating jobs and prosperity, but also working closely with local communities," Tomar said.

There is a mutual benefit, Tomar said, citing things such as the India-based Tata Consultancy Services opening a 300-person office in Bloomington, Minn.

"We are not just doing it because it could benefit people of Minnesota, providing 300 jobs there, but also because there is a development aspect back home in India," she said. "What happens is, both parties benefit from a cooperation like this."

India's economy is on pace to have the third-largest gross domestic product in the world, growing by 7 percent annually over the next five years, Tomar said. With that, the country is seeking ways to close is productivity gap, finance infrastructure and become energy efficient.

Their economic rise has been paralleled by a focus on education. As of 2009, India had 504 universities and 26,000 colleges, creating 350,000 new engineering graduates each year.

The country's higher education aims are "access, equity and quality," Tomar said. Right now, only about 7 percent of Indians attend college. And the country faces a shortfall of 750,000 skilled workers over the next 20 years. To remedy this, India plans to create additional universities; the number is expected to grow by 15 percent by 2015, and 30 percent within a few years after that.

India is also launching 14 "innovation universities," focused on information on research in a particular area.

Tomar was asked about the appeal of U.S. to Indian students, who make up the third-largest group at Michigan Tech. She said compared to India, they have more latitude in creating their own research paths.

"Here, the scope is greater, the flexibility to do research is greater," she said.

Tomar is on campus for two days, during which she will also meet with President Glenn Mroz; vice-president for governmental relations, Dale Tahtinen; and the Indian Student Association. Today, she is scheduled to be a judge for the Homecoming Court.



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