Chicago: Current developments in the field of higher education in India provide an "opportune" time for the University of Chicago to establish an `Institute for Advanced Study` in New Delhi that will focus on promoting interdisciplinary research projects, an ad-hoc committee has recommended to the city-based institution.
The mission of the "faculty-driven" Institute for Advanced Study could be to promote and advance a wide range of interdisciplinary research projects through academic and
public programmes as well as outreach and development in India.
"University of Chicago`s presence in India might contribute to the intellectual, political and cultural life of India and the process may open our campus and our faculty to
new voices and insights from India. The identity and traditions of the University of Chicago mesh felicitously with intellectual needs that are widely felt in India at the
present time," the `Ad Hoc Committee on India` said in its report.
A key initiative of the Institute would be giving fellowships to young and junior Indian scholars at the start of their careers as well as to those who are constrained from
pursuing research. Another focus area would be to create short-term programmes for government and business community.
"We also hope that the Institute could bring together scholars from other countries in the South Asian region, and over time, in collaboration with Chicago centres in other
countries, serve to enhance the research and dialogue on global issues like climate change and security," said the 14-member committee chaired by Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations. Raghuram G Rajan, Eric J Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, Chicago Booth School of Business is also part of the committee.
At a time when the Indian government has approved a bill to allow foreign education providers set up campuses in India and offer degrees and with US President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussing "enhanced US-India strategic partnership in education...it is an opportune time for the university to deepen its engagement with India".
The Committee also considered activities of its peer institutions in constructing its recommendations. While Yale has publicly committed large sums of funding to initiatives related to India, Harvard has some physical presence in Mumbai and New Delhi, Duke has announced plans for a campus in India.
"However, no peer institution, as far as the Committee could ascertain, appeared to have a large presence on the ground in India and Indian colleagues were warmly welcoming of
the idea of a Chicago Institute in India," it said.