By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India
In a recent blog, I wrote about an EU India Social Sciences and Humanities Platform (EqUIP) that has been in gestation for a while. I am now very pleased to say that the Platform was successfully launched at a high profile event in New Delhi on the 14th October 2014.
EqUIP, which is funded by the European Commission to the tune of €1.5 million, brings together 12 European research funding organisations with key funding agencies in India to develop a stronger strategic partnership in social sciences and humanities.
We were honored to have the Ambassador of the EU to India, Dr João Cravinho, as one of the key note speakers. Dr Cravinho spoke of the vital importance of research and innovation to the European Union – as illustrated by the €80 billion Horizon 2020 programme that started last year. He also emphasized the importance of cross-cutting, inter-disciplinary research for enhancing socio-economic impact and for evidence based policy making.
As well as the Ambassador to the EU, we were lucky to have Mr Amarjeet Sinha, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Human Resources Development – which the main funding agency in India for social sciences and humanities research – as the other key note speaker. A big challenge facing India, he said, was the huge cohort of 16-23 year olds (ca. 150 million) which needs to have access to higher education and training. The numbers are mind boggling!
We had many distinguished guests in the audience, including members from the Steering Committee from the participating European research funding agencies. We were also graced with the presence of the British Deputy High Commissioner to India, Mr Julian Evans, who said that it was great to see the UK’s ESRC taking a leading role in this importance EU initiative on strengthening cooperation on research with India.
The formal launch was followed by an evening reception. During the reception we took the opportunity to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between AHRC and the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). It turns out that ICHR already sends many scholars to the UK – which is not surprising because historians who are interested in the last 300 years have a treasure trove of documents available to them in the India Office Archives held at the British Library. At the same time, many British historians interested in the South Asia region regularly visit India in pursuit of their research. The new MoU will help formalise and structure the exchange of scholars.
All EqUIP partners were united in ensuring that the launch got off to a great start.
To know more please visit www.equipproject.eu