Partnership 2020 Quarterly Newsletter

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Partnership 2020: Leveraging US-India Cooperation in Higher Education to Harness Economic Opportunities and Innovation is a grant by the U.S. Department of State to University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) with Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) playing a key advisory role. This is a three-year project with most of the activities taking place in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

This quarterly newsletter will serve as a way for college and university leaders, U.S. and Indian policymakers, and other relevant stakeholders to receive updates on Partnership 2020 work, new funding opportunities, policies, employment opportunities, and best practices in higher education partnerships.

How: Best Practices in U.S.-India Higher Education Partnerships 

In every edition we will have an article from a higher education leader explaining how they launched a U.S.-India partnership and what they are doing now. This edition's piece is by Heidi Arola, director of global partnerships and Purdue - India partnership director at Purdue University.

As Indiana governor Eric Holcomb said when he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a trade delegation to India last year, “You can’t even spell Indiana without starting with India.” Purdue’s connections to India are just as intrinsic. Beginning in the 1950s, a wave of Indian students took the long journey to West Lafayette. One of the most famous is Dr. C.N.R. Rao, Ph.D. in Chemistry, 1958, who later became science advisor to the prime minister and received the highest civilian honor of Bharat Ratna. Since then, a steady stream of Indian students pursuing higher education at all levels have attended Purdue.

Purdue is now home to approximately 2,000 Indian students and 265 faculty and researchers of Indian origin. Purdue has a strong alumni network in India and increasing collaborations with corporate and institutional partners. Purdue's engagement with India is focused on the main areas of bilateral academic mobility, institutional and programmatic partnerships, corporate and government partnerships, alumni engagement, and communications.

The Purdue-India Partnership, which officially launched in 2014, resides within the Office of Global Partnerships. Stakeholders may stay informed by accessing the Purdue-India website and reading the biannual newsletter. The India Working Group and the India Faculty Interest Group convene regularly to share information on engagement and research opportunities. An 11-member executive council serves as an advisory board to the university on its strategic engagement with India. Council members are alumni who hold top positions in government, industry, and academia.

There are three pillar programs of the Purdue-India Partnership: India’s Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) Overseas Visiting Doctoral Fellowship program, in which 25 Indian Ph.D. students spend a year at Purdue conducting research with a Purdue professor. The program is aimed at deepening research collaboration between Purdue and Indian institutions. There is the India-Purdue Collaborative Lecture Series, an annual lecture series and alumni reception, which features distinguished Purdue faculty in areas of interest for India’s advancement of science and technology. And there is the Purdue Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE), a summer program in partnership with the Indian Institutes of Technology in Madras, Hyderabad, and Bombay wherein third-year students are paired with Purdue professors to work on cutting-edge research projects. Purdue is also committed to the success of current Purdue students and thus supports events, including Sci-ROI and virtual career fairs that connect Indian students with prospective employers back in India. 

Three things have made the university-level partnership a success at Purdue: a designated worrier (me), faculty champions, and leadership support.

What: A Deep Dive into a Bi-national Project

In every edition we will also highlight a particular bi-national projection and its current or planned outcomes. This edition's piece is by Dr. Jeremiah Johnson and Aditya Keskar from North Carolina State University.

Irrigation is essential to agricultural production, but remote farming areas often lack access to the electrical grid to power water pumps. Diesel pumps are commonly used but incur pollution and ongoing fuel costs, whereas grid-connected pumps are subject to fluctuations in supply and receive power supply from a coal-dominated power grid. To empower the farming community of Chhattisgarh, the Chhattisgarh state Renewable Energy Development Authority (CREDA) launched a wide-scale deployment of solar water irrigation pumps under a government program titled Saur Sujala Yojna in 2016. This ambitious endeavor is bringing water access to tens of thousands of farms at a lower cost (90-95 percent subsidies are available to farmers) while reducing local pollutants and greenhouse gases. It has been one of the most successful solar water pump programs deployed in India, with Chhattisgarh having the highest number of solar pump installations of any state in the country. 

Funded by the Partnership 2020 program, an international team of researchers is conducting a study to better understand the impacts of this effort and identify opportunities to more efficiently utilize the systems.  Prof. Jeremiah Johnson and Ph.D. candidate Aditya Keskar, environmental engineers at North Carolina State University, have teamed with National Institute of Technology, Raipur electrical engineering faculty members Dr. Sachin Jain, Dr. Ramnarayan Patel, and Dr. Subhojit Ghosh for this work. Our project consists of a two-pronged approach: A large-scale survey of participating farmers will offer new insights into the utilization of the solar pumps, their impact on agricultural productivity, and opportunities to more fully use the excess generation from the solar panels. Second, a prototype of the solar water pump will be built at National Institute of Technology, Raipur to simulate operational strategies and mitigate technical challenges as identified by the survey.

Our international team of researchers is supported by an advisory board, including the NC State Energy Collaborative, the FREEDM Systems Center, and the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. CREDA has also provided essential support to the research team in this important binational endeavor. The project will benefit the global research community, industry, and policymakers by highlighting the key challenges faced in deploying distributed renewable generation technologies in developing countries. Beyond academic publications, the project will result in a report suitable for key government organizations in Chhattisgarh, offering technical and policy insights.

Happening at the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi

U.S. Embassy New Delhi Special Virtual Lecture Series on the Future of Higher Education
Friday, August 7 | 8 am EST

Through this special lecture series, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi brings together American thought leaders to discuss and debate the future of higher education and the future of internationalization in particular. The thought leadership series is open for American and Indian academics and higher education community to join. The next session is planned for August 7. 

The guest for this series is Dr. Mark Elliott, Vice Provost of International Affairs at Harvard University and Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History. Dr. Elliott will speak on - Internationalization in Higher Education: The Pandemic Changes Everything, The Pandemic Changes Nothing. He will explore how the twin forces of the pandemic and global politics could impact and change the course of higher education. 

Register Here; for questions contact