The University of Birmingham has a long history of partnership with India. We welcomed the first students from India to our Edgbaston Campus in 1909 to study for degrees in Mining and in Commerce. Since then we have provided education for more than 1000 Indian alumni, including high ranking government officials
Amongst our distinguished alumni are Dr. U. R. Ananthamurthy, acclaimed writer and critic, who was presented with the Jnanapeeth Award and recently retired as President of the Sahitya Academi; and Mr Ajit Kumar Singh, Cabinet Secretary in former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government. We continue to host a thriving population of Indian students on campus a range of different programmes, at all levels of study and across all of our five Colleges. And of course, our city is also a major centre for India, having the second largest Indian community in the UK and strong industrial and business links with India.
From this excellent base, we plan to do even more in India. The recent workshop on a potential Punjab-Birmingham partnership on Women's Cancer Genomics, led by Sudha Sundar in MDS, was a great success. Key partners from India and the UK will establish a cohort study to investigate the factors causing the three most common cancers in women—breast, cervical and ovarian—in the Punjab region. The study would also have health benefits in UK, as there is a large Punjabi population in the West Midlands region. The project links the University of Birmingham with a number of centres of excellence in India: Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, Punjab; National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kolkata; and Public Health Foundation of India. In November, we will be holding a joint workshop, involving colleagues from the University of Nottingham and the Chandigarh Region Innovation and Knowledge Cluster (CRIKC), exploring the potential for collaboration in two research areas: sustainable cities, and microbiology and infection. Martin Toms in Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences is leading on an exciting collaboration with the Sports Authority of India, which will involve educational opportunities focused on Indian sports scientists, PE teachers and coaches. The potential for research links with the Public Health Foundation of India is also being explored, as are policy and influence activities.
These are just three examples of the multi-faceted engagement that we have with India. This engagement is set to grow even further, reflecting the fact that India is the world’s largest democracy; it is the world’s fastest-growing large economy; it is the major regional power in South Asia, and a rising power on the world stage. As the UK and India prepare to kick-off a year of joint activities to mark the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, there will be certainly plenty more opportunities to pursue. And India will continue to be central to the University’s international strategy and activities.