Rutgers University in New Jersey will set up the ICCR Chair of Contemporary Indian Studies under the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-President Barack Obama Knowledge Initiative. Indian Consul General for New York Dnyaneshwar M Mulay and Interim Chancellor of Rutgers University Dr Richard L Edwards signed and exchanged the MoU to initiate the academic partnership. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Chair and the visiting Professor from India will teach courses, deliver public lectures and engage directly with staff and students at Rutgers. "The partnerships offer an exciting opportunity to unify many of the University's efforts with Indian institutions and raise our visibility," said Dr Edwards. "Our participation as a recipient of the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Award is just one of several exciting developments that allow us to build stronger ties between the two nations," he said. "As one of the University's five focus countries for strategic international engagement, strengthening relationship with India will help us to promote collaborative research and global citizenship throughout the Rutgers University. "This is an important moment in Rutgers' relationship with India and will deepen academic relationships between Rutgers and institutes of higher learning in India," Edwards said. Rutgers, part of the State University system, is founded in 1766 as one of the nine colonial colleges before the American Revolution. Dr Edwards said at an impressive function held at the Consulate General of India in Manhattan as one of the five focus countries, India has come to be the priority for international engagement efforts to promote global research and teaching among faculty, students and staff. There are over 900 Indian students with over 25 student organisations focused on or related to Indian culture.
New Jersey is the home to a large Indian population representing 11.1 per cent of the university's foreign born residents. Rutgers faculty are now engaged in conducting research from Indian literature to public sector management and nutrition and are working collaboratively with many Indian scholars, he said. Rutgers University has strong academic collaborations with Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi and Mumbai; Shreemathi Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women's University in Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, University of Hyderabad and Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Rutgers was one of five out of more than 100 applicant institutions to receive a grant of USD 250,000 under the knowledge initiative. The initiative was announced in 2009 by Obama and Prime Singh to encourage mutual understanding, facilitate educational reforms, foster economic development and engage civil society through academic cooperation with Indian institutions of higher education.