In what is its biggest delegation to date to the sub-continent, 40 academics from Britains top university the University of Edinburgh, which boasts of having over 18 Nobel laureates including Peter Higgs of the Higgs Boson fame, is travelling to India on Friday to establish new partnerships with institutions across the country.
The University, which is the sixth-oldest university in the English speaking world has made India a priority country and recently declared October 2 India day making it the first country which was celebrated in the campus.
A key conference entitled Nation Building in India, which will take place in Kolkata on 19 and 20 February, will examine the role of government in relations between India and the UK. It will also explore the role of women and migrant workers in the Indian economy and assess how treatment for malaria is evolving in Asia.
Professor Suranjan Das, vice-chancellor of the University of Calcutta, which is hosting the conference, said: Calcutta University, being one of the oldest Universities in India, has a long cherished tradition of academic collaboration with Universities in the UK. Im confident that the upcoming conference, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, will create further opportunities to enhance academic co-operation between educational institutions in the UK and those in West Bengal and the Eastern India region.
The University of Edinburgh has a long-standing connection with India, with its first Indian student graduating in 1876. This year Edinburghs scholarship funding for Indian students will rise to almost £1,00,000.
The University will also establish new partnerships with the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Anna University in Chennai and the Corbett Foundation in Mumbai.
Topics as diverse as animal welfare, clean energy and genetics will be the focus of events in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai.
Scientists also hope that Edinburghs expertise in low-carbon innovation can support efforts to harness solar energy in the region.
There will also be presentations on using gene technology, pioneered at the Universitys world-famous Roslin Institute, to help to tackle disease, as well as discussions on the role of women in education in India.
These agreements will complement existing partnerships that include an agreement with the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) in Bangalore, which has resulted in significant advances in the treatment of autism and dementia.
Other collaborations include the University of Edinburghs School of Informatics working with computer scientists across India. There are also agreements between Edinburgh and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Delhi University; the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).
The University recently established the Edinburgh India Institute, to encourage a greater awareness of India in Scotland. This included the Universitys first India Day, in 2014, which was addressed by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the eminent diplomat and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
The University of Edinburgh has bucked the UK trend in attracting students from India, with numbers in 2014/15 increasing by 14% on the previous year.
Professor Sir Timothy OShea, principal and vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh said As Indias population and economy grow, so too does the demand for world-class education. Our aim at Edinburgh, through visits like this, is to build and strengthen partnerships which will reinforce our position as the partner of choice in the Indian knowledge economy.
Professor Shea added The historical ties between India and Scotland are very old and so is the link between Indian scholars and Edinburgh University. One of our oldest alumnus is Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, known as the father of Indian chemistry and founder of Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals in 1893. By having a special India day, we announce how important the country is for us. Edinburgh University receives approximately 47,000 applications every year, making it the third most popular university in the UK by volume of applicants.