UKIERI Study India Programme 2013: Connecting young minds

 “I came to your shore as a stranger, I lived in your house as a guest, I leave your door as a friend…” quote from Rabindra Nath Tagore resonates in the enthusiasm of 200 UK students from 60 further and higher education institutions who are a part of this year’s UKIERI Study India Programme. 

UKIERI Study India Programme started in 2009 has facilitated over 900 UK students to visit India for three weeks to build socially-aware and enterprise-oriented links between people in India and the UK. For 2013, the programme is being jointly delivered by IndoGenius and University of Delhi.

On 6 September 2013, UKIERI bid farewell to these 200 UK students who participated in this year’s programme.  Addressing the students, Honourable Minister Shri Pallam Raju, Minister for Human Resource Development, Government of India reiterated that UKIERI Study India Programme helps connect the younger generations to gain deeper understanding of the global context while emphasising that the participants of SIP will become ambassadors of India in the UK. Law student from Aberyswyth University, Joshua James agrees “They say travel broadens the mind. The UKIERI Study India Programme has helped me to see myself in the context of India and the rest of the world. Our connection to India is one of the most important assets of Britain’s future and the Study India Programme has built on this opportunity.” 

The programme structured into three phases namely cultural orientation; internship with organizations and peer interactions at Indian Universities has been quite a roller coaster for some and huge learning for most. Each phase meant new experiences, developing new links and bridging the apprehensions some of these students had. “I came to India to discover its’ colour, beauty and textiles design. Having spent 3 weeks here, I am taking away so much more. When I return to Scotland I hope to reflect all that I have seen, and my love for India through a collection of textile designs. The Study India Programme provides a well-rounded view of India through education, work, and cultural visits. I hope to return to travel or work here in the near future!”- says Lucy Robertson, Textile Design, Dundee University.

During their three week study visit; the students got an opportunity to learn about India, its industry, culture and history while spending time in Mumbai and Delhi- two cosmopolitan diverse cities! They also visited primary and secondary schools, four colleges of University of Delhi namely Maitreyi College, College of Business Studies, Shri Venkateswara College and Sri Ram College of Commerce to understand the Indian Education System. Indian students also gained in experience that will last long, Singdha from Maitreyi College, University of Delhi shares “Introducing our culture to the UK students and getting acquainted with their culture, this has been a great learning experience for us. As we got an insight into their culture, we could reflect upon ourselves and see our own culture with a renewed vision. Such programmes aid us in framing a broader and a more holistic view of life and the world”.

The participants also undertook internships for a week with corporate organisations, NGOs, multinational companies to get an insight of working in India in cities like Lucknow which embedded values like entrepreneurial skills, work commitment, business ethics which the students want to imbibe in future. Daniel Myers from Southampton Solent University shares “This programme gave me an insight as to how business is done in the rising economies and internationally. It has allowed me to identify my ability to lead, manage things and work in a team. It has definitely strengthened me as a leader. I am doing a degree in International Business Management so it will be really helpful for me.” 

Some of their visits and lecture included visit to Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, Ministry of Culture to orient them about Indian Culture and way of life. They also visited premier institutions like IIT Bombay to engage with researchers, academicians who are working on cutting edge research. Some of the companies amongst many others that offered placements were Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Supreme Court in Delhi, All India Council for Technical Education, National University for Education, Planning and Administration, Genesis Colours, India Art Fair, Tag India and many more. 

The students were fortunate enough to also interact with Minister Jitin Prasada, Minister of State for Human Resource Development. The interactive session was reflective of the UK students understanding of Indian history, culture and work environment in India. During the Q & A; the Minister shared that this was his first ever interaction with international students making the whole experience very special for him.

Dr. Arabinda Mitra, Adviser and Head, Bilateral Relations from Department of Science and Technology also met the students and spoke about the importance of brain drain and brain circulation between the two countries and how the UK students who came as strangers will be leaving as friends of India. Alice Schweitzer, English Literature student from Cardiff University agrees- “This UKIERI program is a one in a lifetime opportunity. Being surrounded by 200 incredible students in the most fascinating and friendly country – I am certainly returning to India as soon as I graduate!”

On their return to the UK, the students will go into UK schools to share their experiences in hope to encourage more young people to participate in outward mobility programmes. 

The programme is making a visible difference to the students who are enthusiastic to return to India to look at future opportunities. “The Study India Programme has been such an indescribable experience. My expectations and perceptions of India have been completely changed and I have has the best introduction to life in India. I have no doubt I will be returning to this amazing country very soon says Amy McKeown, student of Public Relations, University of Ulster.”

The friendships are made; the enthusiasm and the learning’s continue. 

For more details, visit the UKIERI website