Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy called for a landmark agreement between India and the United States to allow more than 10,000 Indian students to pursue doctoral degrees in the United States, with a caveat that they return to their motherland after studies. The return of highly educated students would help India transform itself into a knowledge hub.
“However before we start this, we have to work out an agreement with the US, that these students whom we send from India will not be given employment in the US once they finish their PhD and they will have to come back to India and serve India for at least 10 years,” Murthy told a conference of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce in Bengaluru on Friday.
Murthy estimated that the programme would cost India $5 billion every year, calling it a small cost but one that would bring enormous benefit to the country in the long term. The former UPA government had envisioned setting up innovation universities close to 11 years ago, where Indian students would be able to study in foreign universities with ease. The programme never took off, but Murthy said the plan would have to be revived if India wanted progress.
An emphasis on higher education while not directly linked to improving trade between the two countries, a mass influx of researchers trained in the best universities will “make India a leader in hi-tech products and services” that will enormously benefit both countries in terms of trade.
“There is no doubt that the US is undisputed number one in the world of higher education and research. For us to make our PM’s dream of Make in India a success, we have to succeed in Discover in India and Invent in India,” added Murthy.
There is a conscious push to boost bilateral trade between India and the US to $500 billion by 2020. Currently trade between the two countries stands at about $109 billion. Murthy, on the other hand, put a more realistic target of 10-12 years for achieving the number. But added that it won’t be possible without better higher education in the country.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called for innovative use of technology to impart education to students whose base is languages other than English.
“Could we think of innovative approaches or so to say disruptive technologies, as you call, that can automatically translate what they speak in their mother tongue to English and vice versa. I can assure you that such customised applications can enhance outsourcing from India considerably,” said Siddaramaiah. “Also, this will help our vast number of artisans, traditional designers and many others who are hamstrung by language barriers to market their skills.”