x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Pratibha Patil lauds brand India education

The Indian president praises UAE strategy of embracing academic talent.

Pratibha Patil and Dr Tayeb Kamali, left, the vice chancellor of Higher College of Technology, arrive at Dubai Men's College.
Pratibha Patil and Dr Tayeb Kamali, left, the vice chancellor of Higher College of Technology, arrive at Dubai Men's College.

DUBAI // Pratibha Patil, the Indian president, yesterday urged her nation's universities with an overseas presence to raise the bar of academic excellence, while praising the Federal Government for embracing higher education hubs in the Emirates.

Mrs Patil met with the heads of leading Indian higher education institutes in Dubai and addressed students and teachers on the penultimate day of her four-day state visit to the UAE.

"I am heartened that such globally recognised Indian brands of education are increasingly venturing outside and setting up bases abroad," she said.

"Students in the UAE have the unique privilege of receiving knowledge transferred in the Indian way, while being exposed to a global milieu."

Mrs Patil praised the Federal Government for its emphasis on education and setting up higher education hubs, such as Dubai Academic City, to attract talent from across the world.

"Knowledge is the one treasure that increases manifold by sharing," Mrs Patil said to loud applause from academics and students gathered at Dubai Men's College.

Recent years have shown a definitive shift to the Emirates, with Indian and Asian students completing their educations in fields such as engineering and management. That trend represents a reversal of the previous pattern, when students headed to India, the US and Britain for higher studies.

Mrs Patil urged Indian academics and students to be visible ambassadors of their home country through their outstanding work.

"In the coming millennia the world will see a lot more of India," she said.

"India has made rapid strides in the field of human resource development because of the importance we attach to the acquisition of knowledge.

"You can contribute to India's visibility and growth through your work and conduct. You represent the strength, potential and future of a resurgent India on the world stage."

Mrs Patil's meetings with academics helped engage the institutions overseas with India's education plans, said Sanjay Verma, the consul general of India in Dubai.

"The educational system must be revolutionised, institutions must revamp and move up the education ladder so that they produce a generation of youngsters who are skilled, educated, trained, productive and employable," he said. "India is blessed with a young and productive population and we must prepare this young generation to be fully equipped when they enter the sphere of work."

APJ Abdul Kalam, India's former president, visited the campus of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, the Dubai branch of a prestigious Indian engineering college, during his 2003 visit.

Academics viewed yesterday's event as a milestone that would bolster the growth of regional institutions. "The president choosing to visit Academic City fits into a new chapter between the UAE and India," said Dr RK Mittal, the director of BITS Pilani Dubai. "It has moved beyond trade and economy and shifted to building stronger ties in knowledge and intellectual capital."

There are 19 campuses of Indian post-graduate institutions in Dubai, five of which are located in Academic City.

Indian universities could draw in students from beyond the region as a by-product of the event, said Dr B Ramjee, the director of Manipal University, a renowned Indian medical institution.

"The president's visit shows the commitment of our nation to this nation," he said. "Her visit cements the relationship, not just in the area of education, but in culture [and] politics. It augurs well for the future.

"We are on the threshold of a new beginning. Within the next 15 to 20 years this will be an educational hub not just for expatriate Indians - Dubai is strategically located to serve Africa and the Middle East, countries from Jordan to Egypt and Kenya."

Academics voiced hope that firm links between the countries will help iron out some problems faced by Indian students. Simplifying the degree verification process required in the Emirates would make it easier for Indian students headed here, Dr Mittal said.