First batch of Fulbright-Nehru fellows starts orientation


New Delhi : The first batch of Indian scholars selected for the Fulbright-Nehru fellowship under a revised bilateral agreement is set to start a new academic chapter as they met here Thursday for an orientation programme.

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This is the first group after the programme was renamed ‘Fulbright-Nehru’ fellowship, following the revised pact signed last year.

Pointing to the importance of the fellowship programme, Larry Schwartz, the US embassy’s minister counsellor for public affairs, said: “It is more than an exchange, it is part of the larger pace to bring together the two countries.”

Similarly, Virendra Gupta, director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, said the revised agreement will have “full and equal partnership” from India.

This means that both governments will for the first time spend an equal amount of money on the fellowship. For the 2009 programme, India is spending $2.3 million.

While there are 75 fellows going from India to the US under the Fulbright-Nehru fellowship programme, 85 American fellows will reach Indian shores in a few weeks.

United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) executive director Adam J. Grotsky told IANS that the disparity in numbers was due to the difference in expenses between the two countries.

He said that the grant fellows were now branching into new areas of studies. “Traditionally, they were mainly looking at social sciences and humanities. Now, they are looking at what we call New India Fields, which range from public health to corporate strategy,” he said.

The two-day orientation programme, which began Thursday, will have sessions on administrative and fiscal procedures. It will also provide an opportunity to scholars to introduce themselves to each other.

The total number of scholars travelling from India under various grants of USIEF for the 2009-2010 academic year is 126.