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Fulbright-Nehru: "Looking for People Who Would be Good Cultural Ambassadors"

In Fulbright-Nehru scholars, we’re looking for people with leadership potential, people who would be good cultural ambassadors, and will be willing to share their Fulbright experience and learning when they come back to India says Dr. Diya Dutt, Deputy Director of the United States India Education Foundation.
BY Pooja Prakash |   01-09-2011

The United States India Education Foundation (USIEF), popularly known as the Fulbright Commission, was created in 1950 to promote mutual understanding between Indians and Americans through educational exchanges. With funding arranged by USIEF, scholars, teachers and professionals travel between the two countries.

Dr Diya Dutt is a political scientist with a doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati. She has extensive experience in education administration, and prior to joining USIEF in 2009, she worked as a cultural affairs specialist at the American Center.  As USIEF’s Deputy Director, Dutt is in charge of the administration of the Fulbright-Nehru scholarships programs and also heads the education advising services at the Fulbright Commission.

Here are excerpts from an interview conducted by BrainGain’s Pooja Prakash with Dr Dutt.

Why is the USIEF program important to the United States and India?

“In all our Fulbright scholarships we’re looking for people of academic excellence and who would be good cultural ambassadors.”

USIEF’s mission is to promote Indo-US educational and cultural exchange in the arts, humanities and social sciences and to nurture understanding, friendships and professional relationships between Indians and Americans. For India, USIEF educational advising services provide Indian students access to accurate information about U.S. higher education. USIEF also encourages American students to pursue “Study India” programs.

Where does USIEF get funding and how many grants are available each year?

Until 2008 most of the funding came from the U.S. Department of State. But in 2008 the government of India became an equal funding partner and since then Fulbright scholarships have gone through a remarkable change. They are now called Fulbright-Nehru scholarships and this year we are administering seven grants for 2011-12. Under the Fulbright-Nehru fellowship category we will be sending 112 students to the US and will be receiving about 125 Americans.

What is the purpose of these grants?

These grants are for studying, teaching, research and professional development for scholars. Our grants cater to a cross section of the society and are not restricted to people from academia. Professionals who are working in an independent capacity like dancers, artists, lawyers and journalists can all apply for the program. It’s designed in a way which is very encompassing and includes different groups of people.

Can you tell me a little bit about the Master’s program under Fulbright-Nehru? Are there any specific requirements?

“Committees look for self-starters who would reach out to the communities in which they are studying or researching in the United States and people who are willing to return to India to work and to reach out beyond their own institutions.”

The Master’s degree program sponsors two years of graduate study in the US. This program is restricted to certain fields - which are arts and culture, women study, heritage conservation, business administration, conflict resolution, public administration. The restriction is by design because Indian institutions do not offer good programs in these fields. So the rationale is, after getting exposure in these less explored fields, when scholars return to India, their work will lead to capacity building in institutions as well as in our society. One of the requirements for the Master’s degree is that the selected candidate has to have three years of work experience and they can’t be straight out of college.

What kind of personality do the selection committees like to see?

Committees look for self-starters who would reach out to the communities in which they are studying or researching in the United States and people who are willing to return to India to work and to reach out beyond their own institutions.

What are the criteria you use for choosing Fulbright fellows?

To begin with we are looking for people with a leadership potential, they should be able to contribute something new to their field. Successful applicants explain why it’s important to go to the United States to do the research and how it would be relevant to India. In all our Fulbright scholarships we’re looking for people of academic excellence and who would be good cultural ambassadors.

Is there a certain kind of research project that has a better chance of earning a fellowship?

The current focus is on issues of contemporary importance to both nations that cuts across so many fields. So it’s not that there is a magic discipline, but that somebody has a fresh, good idea that is really relevant to both India and the United States.

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Comments:
sardarzadi jakhrani
I had been USA as a ambassador i have ability ti be ambassador of mine country Pakistan...
18 December 2011


hadiqa
i really want to study in your university
11 December 2011


saba
I am Pharmacist and am interested in your programme. I have completed doctrate of medicines (Pharm.D) from Hajvery University Lahore Punjab. Im interest to work in research field. kindly tell me how i can apply for the scholarship. thank!!!
06 December 2011


tuba
i want to study in ur university :)
03 December 2011


princess tuba
:)
03 December 2011


Shanti Devi
I am a Singaporean registered nurse and am interested in your programme. I have completed my Masters in Applied Management with University of Newcastle. I have a keen interest to work in India thereafter completing the course recommended as above. Would i be able to apply for the scholarship. thank you and best regards
25 November 2011


huma khan
i like it
27 October 2011


Tekraj Paudel
i want to study in your university in master level
27 October 2011


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