Press Release – Victoria University of Wellington
Victoria University is heading up a new organisation to deepen educational ties between New Zealand and India.
The New Zealand India Research Institute, based at Victoria and directed by Professor Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, an authority on Indian history and development, involves nearly 40 academics in five New Zealand universities — Victoria, Auckland, Massey, Canterbury and Otago.
It is modelled on the highly successful New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre, also based at Victoria, which carries out a wide range of initiatives and promotes research to ensure New Zealand engages effectively with China.
“Because of New Zealand’s size, no university has a large number of academics working on research related to India. By coming together in a national centre of Indian studies, we can have an impact both in terms of the research we carry out and in our engagement with academics in India,” says Professor Bandyopadhyay.
He says the Institute will carry out research on Indian diaspora in New Zealand and also leverage the knowledge of Indian expatriates in New Zealand.
The Institute is one of a number of initiatives under the umbrella of the India-New Zealand Education Council (INZEC) which is co-chaired by New Zealand’s Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Hon Steven Joyce and India’s Minister of Human Resources Development.
The Council has a jointly funded budget of $1 million and was set up last year to drive greater cooperation in education between New Zealand and India.
The Institute will focus on five areas – society and culture, migration, economics and business, environmental sustainability and politics and security.
In addition to promoting research on India and New Zealand-India relations, it will encourage postgraduate studies on India in New Zealand universities and facilitate academic exchanges between India scholars in New Zealand, India and other parts of the world.
A key benefit for New Zealand, says Professor Bandyopadhyay, will be greater visibility of its education capability in India.
“There is significant potential for more engagement in the education field, both in terms of Indian students coming to New Zealand to study and carry out research, and for our India scholars to be involved in research projects with colleagues in India.”
For India, he says, there is the opportunity to work with universities in New Zealand that are ranked in the top 500 in the world.
The Institute has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India’s top university—Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi—and is negotiating an MOU with another leading university, the University of Hyderabad.
It is planning to hold two conferences in New Zealand next year for academics from New Zealand and India as well as a joint Indo-New Zealand conference in India.
In addition to its research role, says Professor Bandyopadhyay, the Institute is well placed to be a leader in other activities of INZEC.
“The Institute has the expertise to manage and promote higher education and research activity between the two countries.
“India is a major education market for New Zealand. The Institute can help to realise the significant potential that exists.”