Indian Prime Minister visit to the UK: Highlights strong UK-India research partnership

By Sukanya Kumar-Sinha Deputy Director, RCUK India

The euphoria around Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to the UK started months before the actual visit, and continues to remain high a week later! We, in the research arena, are particularly ecstatic about how science, research and innovation came through with flying colours.

Prof Jane Elliott and Prof VijayRaghavan signing the letter of intent

Prof Jane Elliott and Prof VijayRaghavan signing the letter of intent

During this visit, RCUK announced that investment in UK-India research from RCUK, the Government of India, and third parties now exceeds £200 million, following a joint £72 million boost to the portfolio during 2015. This boost comes in the form of new initiatives across a range of research activities. For instance, we have UK and Indian researchers working together to develop affordable clean-energy solutions, to generate new knowledge on air pollution and its impacts on health in a rapidly urbanising society, and to develop models for sustainable water resources for food, energy and ecosystems services.

On the other hand, there are also multinational programmes (in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development) where UK and Indian researchers are working with researchers from low-income countries to help address major challenges in maternal and childhood health, and food-security needs in low-resource settings.

A full list of new RCUK programmes is available on the RCUK website here.

Team RCUK India

Team RCUK India

As Prime Minister Modi pointed out in his address to the UK Parliament, “We are working together in the most advanced areas of science and technology. We are finding solutions to the enduring human problems of food and health security, and seeking answers to emerging challenges like climate change”.  To say that this has been a busy year will be an understatement! And it is only going to get busier, what with the two Prime Ministers announcing 2016 as the UK-India Year of Education, Research and Innovation.

So, what will the year 2016 bring with it? From RCUK’s perspective, we look forward to making our partnership with India deeper, more robust and more interdisciplinary. We hope to work with a range of Indian partners acting as one team to address mutual, even global, challenges by bringing together experts from various disciplines of sciences. One such imminent programme will be the setting up of the India-UK Strategic Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Led by RCUK in the UK, and DBT in India, the aim of this strategic group will be to lead the way in developing international norms for the control of AMR.

To this effect, on 19th November, RCUK and DBT signed a letter of intent to work together in Climate Change, Agriculture, Antimicrobial Resistance and Vaccine Development.

Another highlight will be the launch of the Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA) campaign in India as part of India’s Monsoon Mission to improve prediction of the monsoon from short range to seasonal timescales.

In May 2016, RCUK will co-host with India the next Global Research Councils meet bringing together approximately 60 heads of research councils from around the world, as well as high-ranking observers from global science agencies, university associations and research policy organisations. Furthermore, the UK will also partner with India for the 2016 Technology Summit in Delhi.

So, as we celebrate the success of the historic ‘Modi visit’ as we have fondly referred to it over the past many months of preparation; we, at RCUK India, look forward to taking forward the commitment that our two Prime Ministers have made towards a stronger and more sustainable research partnership.