Foreign engagements/Indian Government honours Nehru in Cambridge

In 2008 GlobalHigherEd will be developing a series of entries regarding the establishment of overseas campuses, centres, and other relatively deep forms of presence in foreign territories, with an eye to the emerging models that are coming into being, and the implications they generate for global public affairs. These models include:

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This focus links back to our interest in the construction of new forms of knowledge/spaces in a globalizing era; many of which perforate the ‘national’ in fascinating ways. Some of these entries will be lengthy and analytical, and some will be short and descriptive. By the end of 2008 we hope that the aggregate effect is the creation of a global mapping of this phenomenon; one that is raising a whole series of opportunities and challenges for host governments, universities, disciplines/fields, students, quality assurance systems, and so on.

jbslogo.jpgIt is thus noteworthy that the Judge Business School at Cambridge University, under the leadership of Arnoud De Meyer (whom I briefly spoke about in the NYU Abu Dhabi entry) announced, on 3 January, that the Indian Government has donated £3.2 million “to celebrate the centenary of Pandit Nehru’s arrival at Trinity College Cambridge, where he studied for a degree in Natural Sciences”. These monies will fund an endowed professorship who will help lead the Cambridge Centre for Indian Business, which has partially been funded by the BP Group. As Dr. Ashok Jhawar, Country Head, BP India, put it:

BP was founded right around the time that Jawaharlal Nehru was studying in Cambridge. What could be more appropriate, one hundred years on, than for BP to support an important new subject of scholarship, the Indian economic and business models, at one of the world’s leading centres of learning. We are pleased to be supporting this great initiative in partnership with the Indian Government, and we look forward to formally launching the new Centre later this year.

The Judge School of Business notes that:

The Cambridge Centre for Indian Business will support the work of the Jawaharlal Nehru Professorship of Indian Business & Enterprise and would initially focus on contemporary research themes relating to today’s business environment. Themes to be covered in the first three years include technology innovation, emerging global economies, the relationship between economic development and knowledge economy and entrepreneurship. BP’s support of the Centre includes funding for the ‘BP India PhD Scholarship’ for an outstanding graduate student from India to work under the supervision of the newly- appointed Nehru Professor on a research topic agreed with the donor, as well as support for operational costs.

This model – a foreign government-funded professorship – is the most targeted of options for establishing a presence of sorts in a foreign territory, making a symbolic statement, and building capacity. From the funder’s perspective the strategy here involves using and honouring an iconic national figure to enhance particular forms of knowledge about India, but via a globally recognized centre of educational excellence in a foreign territory; a context relatively free of the constraints such a professorship (and centre) would face in the challenging circumstances associated with the Indian higher education system. Apart from the leveraging on Cambridge/Judge element, this is also a relatively simple model to create and regulate. It also effectively denationalizes and diversifies higher education funding streams, providing the Judge Business School (and Cambridge) with greater autonomy from the UK state.

Small scale? Yes and no. High impact? We’ll have to see who they hire, and what they do…

Kris Olds