Published: 02nd April 2019
Indian students will always be welcome to the US: Consul General Robert Burgess
VIT Chennai's University Day was celebrated on April 2, 2019, this year, which is organised every year to celebrate the institute and their students' achievements in the past academic year
Indian students will always be welcome to the United States as the educational culture in both the countries is quite similar, said US Consul General at Chennai Robert G Burgess said. "Both the US and India hold education in high regard, both increasingly celebrate and honour the spirit of entrepreneurship, and that's not true in every society around the world. We see a coming together, an emergence of ideas and goals here, things that both the countries can work on together. Here's an example of how well our partnership works - over 15 per cent of the start-ups in Silicon Valley have been started by Indians or Indian-Americans. It is, thus, a testimony to the drive, the energy and dedication of the Indian students who have gone to study or work in the US and the contributions they are making just not to the US economy but to the world economy as well," he said. The Consul General was addressing a gathering at the Vellore Institute of Technology, Chennai on their University Day, which is organised every year to celebrate the institute and their students' achievements in the past academic year.
Burgess, who assumed the post of Consul General at the US Consulate General in Chennai on Aug 6, 2017, pointed out that this was the best occasion to emphasise the importance of sound education in countries across the world. "Education is not just an investment in a person, but it acts as a powerful tool for society as a whole. A tool that can be used to overcome pertinent challenges starting from poverty to inequality and also environmental concerns. Foundation of a solid education can help us all overcome these challenges. Through education, we learn empathy and understanding that can help us to face global challenges as well," he added.
The Consul General said that during his lengthy career, at this point, he has come to realise that the most important responsibility of a diplomat is building a positive relationship with the people of the country he or she is serving in. "It's the people to people connection that enables other levels of cooperation. The strong and positive relations we see today between India and the US is what will form a strong basis for stronger ties in future," he said, adding, "Each of the programmes and workshops the US consulate and VIT have conducted is of relevance to both India and the United States. Such as entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, intellectual property rights- these are all issues that will be important to the students as they move forward in their careers."
(From L to R) Dr N Sambandam, Pro Vice-Chancellor, VIT, Dr G Viswanathan, Chancellor,
VIT, Chief Guest Robert G Burgess, US Consul General Chennai, Abhaya Srisrimal Jain, Chairman, LifeCell International Pvt Ltd, G V Selvam, Vice President, VIT
The number of Indian students studying in the United States has nearly doubled in the last five years to more than 186,000, students travelling to study there, according to several news reports. The number of students studying in the US rose 94,563 to 103,260 in the years 2010–11. After the Trump administration came to power, Indian students who secured Canadian visas increased by almost 60 per cent in 2017, however it has stabilised to a certain point at present.
Burgess said that the US has a lot to offer to Indian students in terms of education, research and job in the future as well. "On a government level, the United States has partnered on a range of educational programmes including the Full Bright Nehru programme which sponsors fellowships, scholarships, and student exchanges. It is a worldwide programme that enables students and professors to learn, research and teach abroad. This also promotes cross-cultural empathy. For somebody working in the government when see I programme or idea being applied in the private sector and taken to the next level, I know that we are working together as a team, in a partnership and toward the same goals," he said.
Burgess mentioned that the US Consulate will be launching a new initiative this year, which is called the Partnership 20/20, which will seek to create collaboration opportunities for universities in the US and universities and colleges here in India. He concluded his address by commending the students and faculty at VIT for their achievements in the last academic year.
The event was presided over by Dr G Viswanathan, Founder and Chancellor, VIT. Dr Viswanathan emphasised the need to spend more on education in our country. "We are spending three per cent of our GDP on education currently. But we would like it if the new government that will come to power this year will allocate a higher percentage for education. I feel we are lagging behind in industrialisation and manufacturing our own products. If the Make In India scheme works properly then we should be able to export more than the amounts we are importing currently," he said.
Abhaya Srisrimal Jain, Chairman, LifeCell International commended VIT for focussing on research. He stated that in the next 10 years, great changes would happen because of engineers and it is their responsibility to groom the next generation. He was of the opinion that students need to have a blueprint of their goals and produce multiple industries. He emphasised on three points: believe in oneself and be committed, give back to society and focus on creativity. In the course of their path, they must maintain their dignity and focus on building one’s character.