U.S.-India Higher Education Summit Roundtable: Strategic Vision and Achievable Steps
Jim Moore: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I’m Jim Moore, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy in South and Central Asia. It’s a privilege to welcome to the stage honored guest Minister Kapil Sibal and the very distinguished U.S. and Indian participants in our roundtable which will be jointly moderated by Acting Under Secretary of State Anne Stock, and Secretary of Higher Education Vibha Puri Das. Thank you very much.
Acting Under Secretary Anne Stock: Good morning. Welcome to the U.S.-India Higher Education Summit. What a turnout, and thank you students for being here today. Let’s give them a hand. They got up early in the rain.
We have over 300 government, higher education and private sector leaders with us today.
India’s Secretary for Higher Education Vibha Puri Das and I will co-moderate the panel today. But before we introduce our distinguished panel I’d like to ask Minister Sibal if you’d like to say a few words as our honored guest.
Minister Kapil Sibal: Thank you very much. I think it’s indeed a privilege for us to be here.
Over the years I’ve been thinking that we must collaborate with higher educational institutions of the United States of America, particularly because we, some of us have been through that training ourselves and realize the enormous potential that it has for developing not just individually, but societies and nations with a vision to meet the challenges of tomorrow. It’s in that spirit that we come here.
I believe that if you were to stand on the east coast of the United States of America and look across the Atlantic and ask yourself the question, which is that one nation that you would like to collaborate with, I think the answer is obvious. [Laughter].
Under Secretary Stock: Thank you, we appreciate that.
Minister Sibal: And my opening remark is, that is why we are here. Thank you.
Under Secretary Stock: And we welcome you. Thank you, Minister Sibal.
This summit is unprecedented and demonstrates the importance of education between our two countries. In today’s roundtable we will discuss a strategic vision for the future of higher education between our two countries. We’ll hear from some of the most respected leaders in the field and learn how they are positioning their institutions for the future.
Also looking ahead to 2020 we’ll hear how the U.S.-India relationship fits into our panelists’ global strategies and will examine the way for our partnership ahead, as you said in your opening remarks.
So now let’s meet our participants.
Please welcome from the United States Richard Levin, President of Yale University.
Lou Anna Simon, President of Michigan State University.
Molly Broad, President of the American Council on Education.
Steven Paine, Vice President of Strategic Planning for McGraw-Hill Companies.
Secretary Das, would you like to introduce your delegation, please?
Secretary Vibha Puri Das: I am very happy to be here with you this morning co-moderating this session with Anne Stock. I’d be very happy to introduce the delegates from India.
On my right, Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Infrastructure and Innovation.
Subramaniam Ramadorai, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Skill Development Council.
Mr. Nare Jadhav, Member of the Planning Commission.
Under Secretary Stock: Let’s just dive right into this with you, President Levin. Given the prominence of India on the global stage, could you give us just your perspective on what the role of U.S. colleges and universities will play in advancing our relationship. You’ve had a long-time relationship with India. Just give us your thoughts on that.
Mr. Levin: Sure. Yale’s connections to India go back three centuries when a man named Elihu Yale who was Governor General of Madras who gifted, gave Yale its name. So we have a long history.
Many panelists today through the course of the day will be talking about the sort of obvious ways to involve, how U.S. universities can help advance U.S.-India relations. The obvious way is with student exchanges and faculty collaborative projects, and of course at Yale we are sponsoring these and supporting them just as most of our peer institutions are.
Let me focus instead on just a couple of somewhat more, somewhat less obvious avenues of advancement that we have made a feature of our efforts to engage with India.
First of all, this may seem obvious, but it’s a little surprising when you think about it. The field of the study of India is somewhat under-resourced in the United States. We have tremendous strength in the U.S. generally in the study of Europe. We have, thanks to the programs over the years, Title 6 of the Higher Education Act, area studies programs have been advanced around the world. A tremendous effort went into developing expertise in the United States on the Soviet Union during the Cold War. There’s been a lot of effort combined between private philanthropy and the government support to give the American academy as a whole great strength in the study of East Asia, particularly Japan and China, but the field of South Asian studies is, it’s present, but not nearly as well developed.
So one of the things we decided several years ago with the rising prominence of India is we’re going to build up a really great faculty in the study of India. Why? Because one, America needs expertise if it’s going to strengthen U.S.-India relations. We need to be developing a cadre of experts. But second, more importantly, Americans need to know about India. Undergraduates need to have an understanding of India as importantly featured in education opportunities in front of them as other area of the world. So just in the last five years we have built our faculty in the history of India, politics, economics, anthropology, literature, religion and art, in each of these fields we made one or two professorial appointments and we’re building up the study. We have an undergraduate major now in South Asian Studies which we did not have before, as well as a master’s degree. So that’s one area.
Another one I’d like to focus on just to conclude is, using the resources of American universities to do advanced leadership education in areas where best practices in the United States might be useful to India. This is different from educating students who will be the next generation of leaders. This is working with leadership cadres now and trying to impart and exchange best practices.
So one particular example that’s highly relevant to what we’re talking about today is just over the last two weeks Yale has held a program, co-directed in collaboration with IIT Kanpur and IIM Kozhikode, a program that brought about 25 vice chancellors of Indian universities and directors of IITs and IIMs to Yale where we studied together how American universities worked, from top to bottom. How do we organize our faculties, how do we recruit them, how do we admit students, how do we govern the university, how do we raise money, how do we transfer technology, all of the topics that are involved with the success of leading American universities and we shared all of our knowledge and brought the relevant experts from all of those areas of university administration and had some wonderful exchanges with our colleagues, most of whom are sitting here in the second row this morning. And they’re going to go back to India and take some of that information and curriculum that we shared with them and then pass it down to the deans and other officials in those universities.
That’s an example. We’re doing the same thing with parliamentary leaders in India. We have a group that comes every year, sponsored by FICCI and the U.S.-India Parliamentary Forum to talk about salient issues in American politics, in global geopolitics, international trade, environmental issues, public health, where our faculty experts interact with Indian parliamentarians and actually we learn as much as they do, I have to say. It’s very much a two-way street. But these kinds of high level leadership education programs I think are also an important area for advancing U.S.-India relations.
Under Secretary Stock: Thank you. Just out of curiosity, how many people in the audience have Indian or U.S. studies or are engaged in that right now? Can you raise your hand to see if we have a broad base? A lot of the audience.
Secretary Das: May I request Nare Jadhav to make a few opening remarks. As a member of the Planning Commission Dr. Narendra Jadhav was responsible for education, skill development, social justice empowerment.
Do you see a role for India and America relations, especially in the context of the 12th Plan? Because we are at the cusp of the plan right now.
Dr. Narendra Jadhav: Thank you, Secretary Das.
I think this summit is a great opportunity for transforming the Indo-U.S. academic engagement both quantitatively as well as qualitatively. As was discussed this morning, India and U.S., we have shared values in terms of liberty, equality and fraternity. There is so much to gain by this engagement between the largest democracy of the world and the most populous democracy in the world.
It is clearly a win/win situation which I call democratic dividend. In India we talk about demographic dividend, but the collaboration can lead to a large amount of democratic dividend.
In the field of higher education and research the U.S. has acquired incomparable strengths while India has a potential that is quite unfathomable. I believe that from our own positions of comparative strengths both countries can move together towards the 21st Century knowledge economies in a mutually reinforcing manner and that is where academic institutions, colleges and universities can play a very important role.
Under Secretary Stock: What do you see as future collaborations between our two countries and their institutions?
Dr. Jadhav: One can think about at least two channels. The first channel is about the bilateral engagements. We need to significantly scale up the bilateral institutional arrangements which would include exchange of students, exchange of faculty, joint research programs, learning programs at each of those campuses, possibly thinking in terms of joint degrees and so on.
The second channel would be by establishing institutional mechanisms for system-wide engagement, the engagement between the two education systems. And there one can think of any number of ideas. For example, building a U.S.-India higher education collaborative forum. That forum could be a very useful idea. There could be a U.S.-India Higher Education Portal which can disseminate the right kind of information and promote this.
Finally, we can think of terms of establishing on the lines of your National Center for Academic Transformation, an institution which will build up the synergy between the two. Particularly in the areas of harmonization of accreditation, transfer of credit, and promoting multi-disciplinary research, promoting open distance learning, and finally, collaborative skill development programs. So the sky is the limit really. We are at a point where this is something that should have happened a long time back. We have a rich heritage. We have to build on that and make a quantum leap in terms of the relationship between India and the United States.
Under Secretary Stock: Do you see long distance learning as a big wave of the future?
Dr. Jadhav: Absolutely. That is going to be a cost-effective way and there is so much that we can learn from the experience that you have. This is one area where a lot of collaborative possibilities are wide open.
Under Secretary Stock: The U.S. is using long distance learning, but there’s a lot more room for opportunity there, I think.
Dr. Jadhav: As Minister Kapil Sibal said this morning, we are talking in terms of increasing the GER, the gross enrollment ratio, from 15 percent at present to about 30 percent. This would mean millions of students coming into higher education. This would mean that in spite a very large investment, I was talking about the 12th Plan although we are talking about a situation where fiscal rectitude is the order of the day, the three sectors which are getting a large priority, already priority, first is educational skill development, second is health, and third is infrastructure. No matter how much investment is made by the public sector or by the government in higher education, I think the kind of skill that we want to achieve would require a judicious combination of open distance learning with the traditional form of education and that is where collaborative ties can play a very important role.
Under Secretary Stock: Thank you.
This question is for Subramaniam Ramadorai. You were just appointed as Prime Minister Singh’s Advisor for the National Skill Development Council but you’ve also made Tata Consultancy Services one of the world’s largest global software and service companies in the world. As somebody who is doing business daily in the world, what do you see as the future of our dynamic relationship between our two countries, and how do you see that coming into play in what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish for the Prime Minister as this new head of the council?
Mr. Subramaniam Ramadorai: Thank you and good morning everyone.
Tata Consultancy Services is today a 200,000 people organization and growing. The 50 percent of our revenues comes from North America, predominantly the U.S.. It shows the importance we attach to this market. That’s true for the IT industry in general which employs 2.3 million professionals.
Having said that, I just wanted to broaden a little bit before I interject with TCS story or any of those. Where Minister Sibal started by saying the gross enrollment ration has to be increased from 15 percent to 30 percent as part of the 12th Plan.
There are very many indicators that India is poised to play a very critical role in the global higher education mobility not just as one of the world’s largest consumers of internal education, international education, but also increasingly important provider of such education.
Second is there are limits to scaling up of general education to affect a large section of society. And linking employability with the employment skill level of the program therefore assumes very great importance.
When we talk about the U.S.-India collaboration and the foundations, I would like to propose that the foundation of India-U.S. collaboration on higher education be based on three critical pillars. One is innovation, interdisciplinary knowledge, and impact on a large section of the population. Innovation, interdisciplinary and impact, and we need to broaden the base with regard to how we carry beyond the traditional bonds of education.
We talked about beyond the IIDs, how to increase this collaboration and also there are distance education which you asked a question. Stanford comes to my mind where they are offering an introduction to artificial intelligence course on-line and free of charge, but instead of paying $50,000 a year you can get it on-line which is across the board populating to a very large section.
Ms. Broad: A hundred thousand people have signed up to take it.
Mr. Ramadorai: So broad-basing collaboration is what I’m saying.
Third is the research and innovation, the research has to play a very considerable component. That is where we in Tata have what is called a co-innovation network extending beyond enterprise itself but to academic institutions, [VC]-funded firms, and then how do you tap into each of those capabilities.
Lastly, transformation of the rural society into an [organized sector], and R&D is required, innovation is required. Innovation where we need to do more with less, affordability, accessibility, very critical. I’m sure [Sam] will touch upon the infrastructure and the access and affordability when he talks about it. This is something to put on the table.
Under Secretary Stock: Can you go back and just expand a little bit on the innovation concept? Can you just talk to us a little bit more about the innovation concept and what you’re envisioning?
Mr. Ramadorai: Let me talk about innovation, for example, in the software sector itself. If cloud computing is going to be a platform; today you pay for a product, license a product or pay for the services. In cloud computing with the infrastructure being available on the current applications being hosted on the cloud, all they need is a device which the Minister also launched a few days ago. How do you use that kind of a device for educating multiple million people at an affordable price? That’s a very clear innovation.
Take Tata as an example. The Nano Card is an innovation which is again an affordable card. Collaboration between Cummings, Bosch, Tata, everybody, there is a price point which has to be completely different than what it is today. The traditional way to manufacture I don’t think would have got anywhere near the $3000 price point we choose for ourselves. These are some innovations which can do. And all with collaboration between the two countries.
Secretary Das: Do you, Mr. Ramadorai see any possibilities of collaboration or resonance with the community college network in the United States?
Mr. Ramadorai: Absolutely. I think when we are talking about, 500 million Indians to be vocationally trained by 2022, the [polytech] makes the community colleges and the connections between them to reinvent education itself in the traditional forms of workforce education where employability becomes very critical. It’s not that you can just transplant what is happening in the community colleges into the politechniques or the Indian system. Collaborative means you must reinvent the education for the future, education in the vocational space, leading up to higher education, and mobility across the two.
Under Secretary Stock: Also a little bit with community colleges, they’re very market driven so there’s a direct connection between what they’re learning and what the jobs will be.
Mr. Ramadorai: Yes, it has to be impactful on the ground is what I meant by saying that innovation, innovation plus interdisciplinary, and impactful that it touches the people at large.
Secretary Das: And does it also help with what Minister Sibal was talking about, bringing down the barriers and enabling students to migrate from formal systems to vocational and back?
Mr. Ramadorai: I think what is mobility from formal system to vocational, vocational to formal, must be a way of life. Doing with your hands is as good as doing just by the intellectual power. Second is how do you transform that part of it by making sure we do a lot of advocacy just as the U.S. has done. How do you build the marketing and the competencies to be showcased? That’s the other part we can learn from you.
Secretary Das: President Molly Broad. It’s my pleasure to welcome you.
The American Council on Education includes a broad diversity of about 1800 universities and institutions. What are the goals and priorities of U.S. universities in setting their international agendas? What are the key challenges? How do you think there can be scope for partnering with Indian universities and Indian institutions?
Ms. Molly Broad: Interestingly, during the earlier part of this morning Mr. Ramadorai and I have been talking about some potential innovations and ways in which we can share resources and we’ll continue that conversation in a few weeks in India. But the scale that you bring to these issues is daunting, absolutely daunting, and greatly challenging, and really invites innovation.
Madame Secretary, what the American Council on Education has been focusing on recently is how the world has changed as a result of globalization and the impact on higher education, and how we can be much more effective as institutions of higher education in global engagement. And to make a transition from what I think is not inaccurate to describe as relationships that most universities have in the U.S. with other parts of the world as discreet, opportunistic, organically changing, sporadic, maybe ad hoc. There’s no depth or sustained mutuality of interest. And what we are trying to help institutions envision is a much more strategic comprehensive way of addressing and building engagements that run deep, that are active, that are sustainable, that bring strength upon strength, that bring coherence to a sustainable kind of interaction. And given the scale issues in India I see that as a very fertile area for American universities to contribute.
Secretary Das: Do you think there is a scope for going into bigger time consortia-led partnerships rather than only individual institutions going for bilateral relationships with their counterpart institutions?
Ms. Broad: That’s an interesting question. In many ways the network is increasingly a metaphor for the way we operate in every sector of our life. Consortia are another way of manifestation of networking as is broadband and advanced networking, as a way of sharing research and teaching and learning. Absolutely I think consortia are important ways to go.
Under Secretary Stock: Can you take a second and talk about what else is different today? What other things universities and colleges are facing that’s different.
Ms. Broad: I think what we’re facing that is different is the forces of globalization are moving so rapidly that we all are facing a skill race. A skills race. An education race. So that we can continue as globalization unfolds to ensure that our people are prepared to succeed in the new economy.
Under Secretary Stock: My friend, this question is for you because you are responsible in large part for India’s communications revolution. How will that help you educate India’s 500 million youth? Talk to us a little bit about connectivity and what you see as the wave of the future and how you see all of this coming into being to help you educate not just India’s youth, but youth all over the world.
Mr. Sam Pitroda: Thank you. Connectivity is going to be the key in the next couple of decades. Today India is a nation of connect to a billion. Not too long ago we had two million telephones and it used to take 15 years to get a telephone connection. Today we have 900 million phones, so we have to think differently. Connectivity allows us to think big. Connectivity offers a lot of hope in reaching out to people at the bottom of the pyramid for education, health and lots of other services.
Internet has changed everything. It has changed all business models. I believe it is going to have far-reaching implications on education than we all realize. I don’t think we will need teachers in the future. [Laughter]. I believe children learn very differently today than I learned 60 years ago. I don’t need teacher to create content, to deliver content. I need teacher to be a mentor.
In India this is going to bring about massive change. We are in the process of digitizing a lot of our content. Our job is to democratize information.
We have two major programs going on today thanks to people like Kapil who have been sort of driving this. One, National Knowledge Network. Where we are connecting 1500 nodes to  bandwidth to connect all of our universities, all of our R&D labs, a major part of our colleges. This program is going to cost us about $3 to $5 billion. It’s already in the works. Four hundred institutes are already connected, and in 12 months all 1500 nodes will be connected.
In addition we are connecting 250,000 local governments to optical fiber. We have a million kilometer of optical fiber in place. We are adding another 400,000 kilometers. This will cost us probably around another $6 to $7 billion. This will be done in the next 24 months.
When you take these two programs and add to it platforms for UID, GIS, cyber security, applications, financial services, you create whole new infrastructure to deliver new services. 550 million young today are the key to us.
In higher education we need to worry about expansion. We talked about more universities. We need to worry about excellence. Quality of education has to change. And we need to worry about equity. We have to make sure that the poorest of the poor can indeed get the best education possible.
The U.S. model is too expensive. I am one of those who firmly believe the best brains in the world have been busy solving problems of the rich who really don’t have problems to solve. I want best brains to solve problems of the poor. As a result we’ve got to think differently. We have the largest number of poor. We have moral responsibility to address those. As a result, our models have to be very different. It has to be Indian model. Affordable, sustainable, scalable. If we can’t have affordable model it’s not going to work.
So the university of 2020 is going to be very different from Yale. [Laughter].
Under Secretary Stock: That’s why he’s taking notes so fast. [Laughter].
Mr. Pitroda: When I think of India I also realize that we have the oldest universities in the world. Nalanda, Takshashila. Twenty-seven hundred years ago were the best universities in the world. People from all over the world came to these two universities. We lost that tradition. Somehow, somebody came and said it should take four years to get a BS. Everybody follows it. [Laughter]. I don’t know why. We need to question that. We need to really create a different model using all the social networks, IT, connectivity, content, new delivery system. And we need to create a model where you can get a degree for maybe $1000 a year, maybe $2000 a year.
We also need to worry about the fact that today we give you certificate to exit. I want to see a certificate to enter. We don’t need to certify somebody to exit. Why should I give you certificate to exit after four years? What does it mean? If I have a BS degree and a certificate am I useful to the workforce?
So I think looking at it differently, certify somebody to enter, will again change the business model.
I think this whole idea of massive investment in education is essentially obsolete. We are still holding onto it, but believe me, children today learn very differently. My parents told me to focus. Today children do multi-tasking. Watch TV, send SMS, listen to music, do their homework. And they do it well. I don’t get it. [Laughter]. We must think of our customer. Our customer is very different. So people like us come up with these great ideas based on what we did. I think it’s all obsolete. They don’t need degree today. They don’t need four years to get masters, or six years to get a masters. They are learning it very very differently. They are searching. They are sort of soaking in from multiple media. I believe we need to focus on that.
11th Plan in India was all about education, education, education. We believe the 12th Plan is going to be all about information, IT, connectivity. We need to create our own content. We need Indian model of learning. Our needs are very very different and I think that’s where we have a little bit of disconnect. U.S. has great content, U.S. has great teachers, U.S. has good R&D, so how do we connect on these three? At what level do we connect to meet our needs on expansion, excellence, and equity?
Given a choice, I’d like a program to train a million teachers together. I want to teach how to use IT in education. It’s not about IT, it’s about how to use IT in education. Today people are holding onto the old models and I think it’s about time that we begin to question that model.
Under Secretary Stock: To follow that, that’s what partnerships are about, listening to each other’s needs and figuring out how to move forward. You have just provided a lot of food for thought about what the future holds and how we work together to address the needs that are clear.
Mr. Pitroda: Needs from Indian viewpoint relate to 550 million young below age of 25. Lost cost model. Affordable, sustainable, scalable. Models which are not known today. Something out there which is unknown. And model that looks at certifying entry and not exit.
Under Secretary Stock: That is an innovative concept. It’s like looking at what those next steps will be. We may not know what those steps are yet, but it’s working together to figure out how to move forward.
Mr. Pitroda: But we also need to think of massive change. Generational change, and not incremental change. We’ve got to think big. We’ve got to think loud.
Under Secretary Stock: I think you said it best when you said you’re looking at who the consumer is. The consumer is thinking very differently. A young person does multi-tasking.
Mr. Pitroda: I’ll give you one example if you’ll give me a minute. I have a six year old little niece. My sister’s daughter’s daughter. She lives in Ohio. She told me one day, I did a White Paper on lady doctor. I said what do you mean, you did a White Paper? Can you read? She said yes, I asked my mom, why do I have all my doctors male? My dentist is male. My mom said I don’t know. So she said I decided to Google. Six year old. She goes, looks at lady doctors in America. Goes to the history of who were the first lady doctors and prepares a three page White Paper on lady doctors on her own. Nobody told her to do it. When that kid goes to school, teacher will start saying A, B, and kid will say who do you think I am? And kid is going to lose interest. I think we need to pay attention to that.
Secretary Das: I think Mr. Pitroda you are at the heart of paradigm shift when you caused the telecom revolution, you talked about access rather than ownership. And you are also asking for a similar sort of paradigm shift in education. What do you see as the future when we look at higher education in India and its context with the United States?
Mr. Pitroda: First of all, we must recognize technology is going to play a very important role. So everything we do today is essentially obsolete. We’ve got to start with that. Then you begin to find what you keep and what you don’t keep.
Connectivity is going to be the key. This National Knowledge Network in India is connected to Japan, U.S., EU, and many other parts of the world. I should be able to take a course from MIT or Yale or Stanford sitting in a small little village in India.
Mr. Levin: They can do that now.
Mr. Pitroda: Then I don’t need a degree, I don’t need a certificate, I don’t need some professor to tell me I certify you passed this grade. I think that’s the difference. Difference is don’t create boundaries around how I’m learning. Let me learn my way. Don’t underestimate my capabilities. Don’t tell me what I should learn and what I should not learn. Just leave me alone.
Mr. Levin: There are resources there. There are hundreds of MIT courses on-line, there are 35 Yale courses, complete courses. All the lectures, all the materials, everything is there for the taking. So what’s the barrier? The fact is most people look at these courses, they sample one lecture.
Mr. Pitroda: Motivation is the barrier.
Mr. Levin: Two percent go through the whole course.
Mr. Pitroda: Motivation is the barrier because parents tell you to go to college for some other reason. You might want to explore music for next two years. You can’t do it. Your parents won’t let you do it. They are forcing you to go get degree in engineering or medicine because that’s how you’re going to earn.
So I think motivation is a big, big issue. If I’m motivated, I can surf and learn. If I’m not motivated today maybe I’ll be motivated three years down the road. Leave me alone. Let me decide. I think that’s the key to me.
We all see the structure. Four years to do this, two years to do this, get a master’s in this, get this, do that. Kids are saying no. I want to start making my own way in my life. If we allow them to do it, I think we’ll see a new model. But I don’t think we’ll allow them to do it.
Mr. Levin: There are a lot of grownups in the way of vested interests.
Mr. Pitroda: Exactly.
Under Secretary Stock: We should ask our youth.
Let’s take a break from the panel for a second. We have a large audience following us on line. A lot of them are following us on Twitter. I’d like to take a question on Twitter. I understand we have a lot that have come in. So do you have a question you can pose to the panel from one of our Twitter followers please?
Question: [Inaudible] in New Delhi asks, currently more than 100,000 students from India go to the U.S. to pursue higher education yet American students going to India number no more than 2500. What policies are the U.S. and Indian governments developing to address the disparity?
Minister Sibal: -- American students from coming to India. There is no policy impediment. The issue is are they motivated to come to India? Do our institutions motivate them to come to India? That is really the question.
I think if I may, that’s in response to what was asked, but if I may, if you’ll permit me, just respond to some of the things that have been said.
Under Secretary Stock: Absolutely.
Minister Sibal: I think we have got to be a little bit realistic. Sam rightly described -- [Laughter] --
Mr. Pitroda: That’s why you and I -- [Laughter].
Minister Sibal: Sam rightly described what the future is going to be and I put some of that in my speech as well.
But if I were an American and I was wanting to collaborate with India I would ask some questions to myself.
The first question I would ask is what is in it for me? That Americans often ask. If you get the right answer to that question there’s a road for collaboration. So let me give you a couple of answers.
Number one, there are lots of people in the United States of America, young people, whose skills are outdated. They need to relearn. Unlearn and relearn. And there are lots of people in India who can actually provide the skills for American students in the United States of America. A lot of industry people. Some of them in part of the delegation say we are here actually, we can provide a lot of skills to you in the United States of America. And therefore, there is a market for that. That dialogue has not moved forward.
Under Secretary Stock: That dialogue needs to happen.
Ministers Sibal: That dialogue needs to happen.
That’s number one.
Number two, if you look at your education system, there’s a lot of tension at the moment. Less than the economic system, but there’s a lot of tension in the education system.
What’s the tension? Costs are rising. People have to borrow large amounts of money. A lot of, about 40 or 50 million children don’t get the kind of quality education that they should get.
Essentially the cost of education is very high, and as Sam mentioned, that’s really an impediment.
Now if you were to collaborate with Indian institutions where you could actually bring down the cost to almost one-tenth for acquiring the same skills, that’s a roadmap for collaboration by American institutions with Indian institutions. And therefore it’s an answer to the question on Twitter. That’s a way of actually getting American children to India because the high cost of education is not affordable by a lot of American children. We can provide the same quality education in Indian institutions at one-third the cost. So that’s a good opportunity for collaboration in which children can be educated in India and you’ll have instead of the 2,500, you’ll have 50,000 students coming from the United States of America at much less cost. That’s number two.
Number three, where is the world moving towards? Sam mentioned that in the years to come it’s going to be an interconnected world. So in that interconnected world, what is the requirement of the global community? Not just America and India, but the global community? And one of the biggest requirements would be children who are educated in cyberspace, information technology disciplines. A whole range of issues where that kind of education is not being imparted in this part of the country and not being imparted in our part of the country. There’s a mutual need to actually educate our children in the area of cyberspace because if everything is connected, then obviously you need enormous talent in that particular discipline. That’s an area which is of mutual benefit to both countries.
If India is going to expand, move forward at an economic rate, a growth rate of eight percent, and this is our expectation this year even when the global economy is on the downturn. And if we continue to do that and if we have a trillion dollars to be invested in infrastructure in the next ten years, $250 billion in education. Setting up a thousand universities. Setting up 50,000 colleges. Do you see the enormous potential of engineers and human resources that will be required in India? And not just in India but also the rest of the world.
Now that’s a great opportunity for American enterprises to come to India and actually provide the low cost solutions. What’s happening here, and I think that’s where the problem arises, you always think in terms of exchanges. How many students should come from India? Can this 100,000 be 200,000? That’s the wrong way of asking the question. The issue is not how many students should come to India, from India to America. The issue is how much, what kind of solutions can you provide to Indian students in India? Which is an enormous opportunity for American industry and enterprises. And you can do that by lowering the costs and collaborating.
You can’t, for example, if you’re going to educate millions of children what kind of content should be provided through the internet for education? That content -- Western content will be neither accessible nor affordable to Indian students. The opportunity to create Indian content in India is an enormous opportunity for American enterprises and educational institutions. But that can only be done in India. It can’t be done sitting in the United States of America.
So I’ve given you about four or five areas where it’s of mutual benefit for collaboration and I don’t think we’ve built those bridges. This summit is really the beginning of that.
Under Secretary Stock: I think the summit is the beginning of it because it’s the beginning of what will be a long-term discussion of how relationships go forward and how we partner together and how we look at all of the issues that are on the table, and how we creatively solve and move together to address a lot of the challenges.
Mr. Pitroda: One point I’d like to make. Indian government will be spending close to $20 billion in democratizing information in the next three years. This excludes NKN, connectivity to [panjabs], all of the platforms, UID, GIS, applications, which is a lot of commitment in terms of public funding. I don’t think any government anywhere else in the world today would make that kind of commitment to the technology of tomorrow. These are the super highways of tomorrow that can only be built by public funding.
Under Secretary Stock: Do you want to add any comments to that? I saw you shaking your head.
Ms. Simon: I was going to add I think what we’re talking about is coming to a common definition of what a global citizen scholar is. Then instead of working through our own systems that we’ve created over a long period of time, trying to identify ways in which we could meet those objectives in a much more effective way but also a way that is mutually supportive of development of our democracies. That requires I think not only looking at education as a content asset but looking at education as a way to solve the world’s big problems. We can organize ourselves I think around some common themes if we think about food or environment or the kinds of things that we’ve been working on in India for a very long time. And instead of saying we’re going to have a degree, we’re going to solve these world’s big problems, and then we can organize or research and our education, our student experiences and replicate in large scale the Stanford example of one small step. That will require I think Indian and U.S. institutions to try to find a different medium for collaboration and thinking about those issues.
Also I think the U.S. institutions need to bring our global networks to the table. I was commenting earlier, we were at the World Food Prize this week and talking about Indian and Dutch and U.S. collaborators on some of the most difficult problems facing India. And how do we then organize ourselves and make those a learning opportunity that then can drive our collaborations in addition to degrees and course content and the typical things that we talk about.
Secretary Das: You’re leading one of the largest land grant universities and you’re also on the U.S. Council of Competitiveness. Do you see any resonance or any way forward in how you enhance engagement with Indian universities or Indian knowledge creation?
Ms. Simon: It’s interesting that we’re having this conference near the celebration of the Moral Act, and Michigan State was a prototype for the Moral Act actually seven years before it was enacted by Congress, and the idea was that we would be able to be open in access, be good enough for the proudest, but open to the poorest and be able to compete with brand-name institutions but open the doors more widely, but also deal simultaneously with economic competitiveness and quality of life issues. It wasn’t one or the other. It was all three to be worked on jointly with our best scientists. I think that’s the world we’re looking at right now. There’s a lesson in that in how we think about moving forward and making it a co-creation of the definition of the problems we face at the same time a shared agenda and alignment of working on those issues and concerns, not because we want to fit our model to you, but we create this new hybrid model that advances both of our countries.
Secretary Das: Do you think the synergies for solving or addressing global grand challenges like food security or unemployment, there is scope for partnering?
Ms. Simon: I think there are extraordinary opportunities for partnering because if you look at any definition of what will be the barriers for prosperity in the kind of global society we want, those are the issues at the core. They provide enormous opportunity for fundamental research as well as working in urban as well as rural settings to enhance resilience and prosperity.
Under Secretary Stock: I’d ask you, Steve, what are some, as a businessman, what are some, where you see opportunities for education collaboration. You’ve been out of this discussion and I need to get you into it quickly.
Mr. Paine: Thank you for the opportunity. I bring a couple of hats to the table. First, I’m representing Terry McGraw who is our Chairman, CEO and President of McGraw-Hill Companies. He sends his regrets that he couldn’t be here today. He values the work that we do in India.
But the other hats that I bring, I just retired, at least I thought I retired in January as State Superintendent of Schools in West Virginia. So I’ve been on the K-12 side. One of our charges was to prepare kids for their next venture which would either be a two-year collegiate endeavor with a community college or a four-year endeavor with one of our institutions or outside of our state in those institutions.
Another hat I bring to the table is I’m a parent of two kids that have already gone through college and grad schools and two that are still in institutions of higher education in the U.S., so we’ll combine all of that.
As a company, we have a rich tradition in India with Tata. A four-year history where we have published materials. But I think that that leads us to a sense of corporate responsibility that McGraw-Hill champions under Terry, and that is that we recognize in this world when economies are shrinking, and with scalability issues in India as well as in the United States, that we have a corporate sense of responsibility to assist and to partner.
Recently I know that Terry at the World Economic Forum announced a partnership with Lipro, for example, that we could digitize content. I think it’s up to us as part of that sense of corporate responsibility to look for those open platforms that could provide scalable solutions in both of our countries. So that this new system that I heard our colleague speak of, kind of an innovative transformational system, could be realized in India. I think we would love to be a partner with you as we move forward in that realm. We’re very well positioned in taking our rich content, putting it on some kind of an open platform, perhaps looking at how do we translate that content into the 22 languages that are recognized in India. So those are great challenges that even though we’re dissimilar in some ways, that diversity I think we could capitalize as a strength.
Under Secretary Stock: Do you want to add something?
Minister Sibal: I just wanted to mention, there’s been a lot of talk about distance education in the course of this discussion, and a lot of talk about content. My problem with distance education is the following. There’s no point having distance education unless you manage the distance. The problem is, if you provide a solution sitting 10,000 miles away to a student without reference to the context of the problems that he faces, that distance education is of no use to him.
So I think that distance education can only be provided when you understand the context of the problem which is sought to be solved. Remember, education is moving towards problem solving course work. That’s where it’s going to end. Apart from, of course, basic education and research and all that. But for a large section of the community it’s problem solving. Problem solving cannot happen through distance education. It has to happen contextually. If you want to create a distance education course you first have to be in India to understand what you’re trying to address when you address it from far away. I think that’s a very very big issue. So content creation in the context of the needs of the community is at the heart of the education system, and unless you are in the community you can’t create that content.
Mr. Paine: I think that’s actually a great point and it’s one that our company has learned quite well. Let’s get on a plane and go to India and let’s talk face to face and let’s understand the needs that exist so that we can better respond and be better partners.
Under Secretary Stock: And I think that was one of the questions from a number of people today when we were walking through the halls, because we do have a number of people who are starting business relationships with India and starting education relationships, and how do you get started? I think that’s a piece of good advice. You actually have to get on a plane, you have to go, you have to sit down with officials, you have to see what the needs are, you have to see how those needs fit with what your institutions are trying to do, and then you have to creatively brainstorm and collaborate to see what the needs, how those needs come together from both sides. If I see one thing coming out of the discussion today it’s -- you said it when you started in your opening remarks, it is about partnerships, but partnerships are two-sided and they are literally, you referred to it Molly, too, it’s that they’re ongoing conversations. That’s how you solve the challenges ahead of us. But it’s also how you take advantage of the opportunities to actually improve everybody’s society all the way around. Would you add something to that?
Minister Sibal: I just want to add to what she said. In the ultimate analysis we’re all here to solve the problems that confront the global community. And education is at the heart of it, whether it’s global warming, or it’s the war with respect to waters that will take place, or it’s agriculture and food security, or it’s basic health care, discovering new molecules to take care of the diseases of tomorrow. At the heart of all this is R&D and education. And unless the two great democracies of the world really come together, and this is why we are natural partners, we’re not going to resolve the problems of the world. That’s really the heart and the spirit of this partnership and that’s how we should move forward.
Ms. Simon: I think oftentimes we’ve defined problem-solving in a very technical sense where if we have the right scientific solution we have somehow addressed the problem. I think what we’re talking about together is a way in which we really blend in the classic land grant way the liberal arts and the social behavioral sciences as well as the technical in a way that has a real societal solution, not simply a quick answer to the science of the moment. I think if we can create that opportunity with our countries and with our university systems and we’re prepared, all of us, to break out of our more traditional modes, I think we have a real opportunity to not only contribute to our own countries but to make a model of education and research and development that has profound impact on society in general.
Minister Sibal: If you look at your own country and look at community colleges that developed, they developed around industry located in a particular area. Your skills, therefore, were honed to the needs of the industry.
Now you can’t manage skill development from the United States of America unless you know what the industry is in India, what needs does it, what are its needs, what kind of skills are required? Then of course you can teach them through the modes that Sam suggested. But you can’t do that without being there.
Secretary Das: I think the point that you made about industry being at the heart, I think since we have one representative from the industry sector, maybe how does the industry view this emerging partnership and how do we take it forward to make it truly multilateral and multi-dimensional?
Mr. Paine: The area of skills development is something that we have devoted an entire section of our company to, developing resources and strategies and so forth. And exactly reflecting your comment. The way that we did that was to get out into the field, talk with industry, look at the end result, begin with the end in mind, how do we build kids’ knowledge and skills so that they can successfully be credentialed to secure one of those particular positions. That would be a tremendous area of partnership in the future between both of our countries and in the private sector as well.
Again I want to emphasize our sense of corporate responsibility. Sure, we’re a for-profit company but we also understand our obligation to that mission of corporate citizenship. And seeing too, those 550 million youth have a future, as well as youth in the United States.
Minister Sibal: Again I’d ask you a question. Do you have a dialogue with the student community? I think Sam, you really struck at the heart of the issue. Most of the time we do these things without reference to what the student wants. What the kid wants. Do we have a dialogue between the world of academia and kids? The world of industry and kids? I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s enough of a dialogue.
Mr. Paine: It needs to be much stronger. Much much stronger.
Under Secretary Stock: We can add that to our “to do” list.
I am getting sign after sign that says five, four, three, two, one, minus zero. We have just spent an hour with some of the most thoughtful leaders, thinking in-depth about the challenges and the opportunities we face ahead. We clearly could go on for quite a while, and we will. We always look at a day like today as the beginning marker that lays down all the issues that we need to discuss and where we need to go from here. It is about partnership, and I thank you for co-hosting today. Minister Sibal, always thank you for your very thoughtful and in-depth thinking on the issue. And to all of you for challenging us in a variety of ways.
Don’t get up, there are two very short videos that you need to see. We’re going to join you in the audience to watch them, and then we’ll take a coffee break. Thank you very much for your participation.