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Cambridge and India


June 2015

Professor Shankar Balasubramanian (Department of Chemistry) delivered the DNA@70 public lecture at the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi. The lecture is part of a series organised by the Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance.

May 2015

The Indian Minister of State for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences, YS Chowdary, visited Cambridge on 22 May to formalise an agreement between Cambridge and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) on the creation of a new programme of lectureships. Under the terms of the agreement, 5 lecturers will be appointed by the University of Cambridge with funding to support the posts jointly provided by Cambridge and the DBT, to support research and innovation projects in collaboration with Indian partner institutions.

April 2015

Professor Sir Christopher Alan Bayly FBA, FRSL, Vere Harmsworth Professor Emeritus, Faculty of History, passed away unexpectedly while in Chicago. Professor Bayly was a key supporter of integrating work in Cambridge with work in India, and is deeply missed by colleagues and friends in Cambridge and across the world. Read tributes to Professor Bayly on the University website, the Guardian, and the India Today Group. The Global Intellectual History Seminar, which was founded by Professor Bayly and Dr Shruti Kapila (Faculty of History), held a seminar on what would have been Professor Bayly's 70th birthday on 18 May with Ruth Harris, Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford, speaking about Swami Vivekananda’s interactions with the West.

March 2015

The NCBS-inStem-Cambridge Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme is presently accepting applications.

The University secured a further 5 UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) Thematic Partnership awards in the latest funding cycle announced in March 2015, to go with the 3 awarded in 2014 and 6 others in previous years. The latest awards include those made to Professor Keith Priestley at the Department of Earth Sciences, Dr Florian Hollfelder at the Department of Biochemistry, Professor Bob Haining at the Department of Geography, Professor Gehan Amaratunga at the Department of Engineering, and Dr Jag Srai at the Institute of Manufacturing, in partnership with their respective Indian collaborators.

Dr Cameron Petrie, senior lecturer in South Asian and Iranian Archaeology at the Division of Archaeology and Anthopology, was awarded a 2 million euro ERC consolidator grant for his 'TwoRains' project which examines the resilience and sustainability of South Asia’s first complex society, the Indus Civilisation (c.2500-1900 BC).

February 2015

The University of Cambridge hosted at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi on 12 February "Nehru and Today's India", an international symposium to mark and assess the legacy of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister and Cambridge alumnus, in the year of his 125th birth anniversary. The day's opening panel on "Economy and Development" and the next panel on "Religion and Democracywere broadcast on Indian television by NDTV. The event was co-convened by Dr Jennifer Barnes (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy) and Dr Shruti Kapila (Faculty of History).

January 2015

Dr Shailendra Vyakarnam, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Learning at the Judge Business School, organised a one-day workshop at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), Bangalore, on 6 January for scientists and entrepreneurs to work on clarifying their business propositions. A brief report on the workshop is available here.

Separately, CfEL secured an agreement with the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) for the design and delivery of the Group Project Activity under the RAEng’s Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) programme, which is supported by the UK Government’s Newton Fund. Under the terms of the agreement, CfEL will provide five three-day training courses for RAEng-selected entrepreneurs and researchers from India, Thailand, South Africa and Vietnam, beginning in March 2015. 

December 2014

Dr Alex Copley (Department of Earth Sciences) visited his long-standing collaborator, Dr Supriyo Mitra, at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata, with funding support from the Cambridge Hamied Visiting Lectureship Scheme. Dr Copley's research in India is focussed on understanding the locations and magnitude of large earthquakes, and the partnership with IISER involves extensive fieldwork in assessing the characteristics of the active fault-lines generated by major earthquakes in the past, such as the Bhuj and Latur events.

Dr Sujit Sivasundaram (Faculty of History) and Professor Simon Schaffer (History and Philosophy of Science) organised a workshop on exploring the histories of medical, astronomical, and natural science in Delhi at the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum from 16-17 December.

Raghuram Rajan, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, gave the Clare Distinguished Lecture in Economics and Public Policy on 3 December at Clare College.

November 2014

Dr Bhaskar Vira (Department of Geography) attended the Commonwealth Science Conference in Bangalore where he released a major new Royal Society report, which he co-authored, on "Reslience to Extreme Weather". The report, which attracted significant press coverage in India, identified the economic and human costs of extreme weather by examining climatic events such as the Odisha cyclones of 1999 and 2013 and flooding in Surat in recent years. It then made a series of seven policy recommendations to governments focussing on planning, preparation, protection of people and assets, and making evidence-based decisions.

Baithak, a student-led group which holds regular forum series on contemporary topics of significance to South Asia, organised two visits to Cambridge this month with a focus on Indian media. The first visitor was Arnab Goswami, a prominent journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the Indian news channel Times Now, who delivered a public lecture on “Indian Media and Politics” at St Catharine’s College on 9 November. This event was followed with a visit by Manish Tewari, the former Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the previous Indian government and current Congress MP, on 12 November. He spoke about “Media and Censorship”, in conversation with Dr Shruti Kapila, the academic lead of both the visits, at Corpus Christi College.

October 2014

His Excellency Mr Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, visited Cambridge on 27 October. After meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy, he attended a round-table discussion at the Judge Business School on teaching and innovation around business in India. He then visited the Centre of South Asian Studies where he met with the Director and interacted with Indian students, before visiting the Institute for Manufacturing where he gave a public lecture on “Make in India”, a new campaign launched by the Government of India.

The Cambridge-Hamied Visiting Lectureship Scheme, which was first established in 2009 to stimulate academic collaboration between leading Indian institutions and Cambridge, is undergoing a significant expansion. The expansion, from autumn 2014, will aim to strengthen and deepen research collaborations between Cambridge and Indian partners. Since its inception, the scheme has supported over 20 distinguished academics and in many cases has facilitated partners to develop successful proposals for major funding from other sources. Further details and information on how to apply are available here.

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), Bangalore, and the University of Cambridge are pleased to announce the NCBS-inStem-Cambridge Postdoctoral Fellowship. The fellowships allow for the joint-appointment of 4 Postdoctoral Fellows per year to work in Cambridge for half the period of a 4 year term, and covers full salary costs. Further details and information on how to apply are available here.

September 2014

Vice Chancellor's visit to India:

In Bangalore, the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and five senior Cambridge academics participated in UK-India round tables on Advanced Manufacturing and Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), organised by the British Deputy High Commission. A full report on the AMR workshop is available here.

In Mumbai, the Vice-Chancellor was guest of honour at the Cambridge International Examinations Celebration of Achievement, which brought together 150+ headteachers and governors from CIE’s schools across India.

In Delhi, an agreement was signed between Cambridge Trust and the Government of India's Science and Engineering Research Board, creating the Cambridge India Ramanujan Scholarship. The scholarship, which will enable a cohort of some 20 PhD students to be undertaking studies in Cambridge at any one time, was formally announced in Delhi by Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. The Vice-Chancellor and Dr Singh also issued a joint statement on cooperation, agreeing to work on the key areas of jointly investing with the Indian Government in research posts; of forging a plant sciences research partnership between Cambridge and India; and towards creating an ecosystem that will encourage Indian industry to invest in research.

On a visit to the National Law University, Delhi, the Vice-Chancellor met with the Union Minister of Human Resource Development (whose portfolio includes Education and Higher Education), Mrs Smriti Zubin Irani, and presented the first Pratibha M. Singh Cambridge Scholarship which will enable an outstanding law student from India to read for the Master’s of Law degree at Cambridge.

The Vice-Chancellor hosted Global Cambridge: India, the University’s most ambitious alumni event ever staged outside the UK. This brought together distinguished speakers from Cambridge and India to discuss and debate issues in the three key areas of health, education and society, with an audience of over 300 Cambridge alumni and friends. The opening plenary included contributions from the British High Commissioner to India, Sir James Bevan, and the national spokesperson for India’s governing BJP party, Mr M J Akbar.

July 2014

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, will be visiting India again in September 2014, with an aim of reinforcing Cambridge’s commitment to work with India on addressing critical issues of mutual concern. He will attend a number of events during the visit including Global Cambridge: India, and will take part in events organised by Cambridge International Examinations and Cambridge English Language Assessment in Mumbai and New Delhi respectively. 

June 2014

Dr Yusuf Hamied, pharmaceutical chemist and Chairman of Cipla Limited, an Honorary Fellow of Christ's College, and a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Circle of Advisors for India, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University, on 18 June.

May 2014

Professor MS Swaminathan, the distinguished geneticist and Cambridge alumnus hailed as the “Father of the Green Revolution” in India, delivered a lecture on “The transformational role of plants in meeting the zero hunger challenge” at the Sainsbury Laboratory at on 17 May. He was later hosted at dinner by the Master of Fitzwilliam College, Nicola Padfield.

The most recent Hamied Visiting Fellows were in Cambridge over the Easter Term. Dr Rahgu Padinjat, from the National Centre of Biological Sciences, Bangalore, visited Professor Robin Irvine (Department of Pharmacology) and others to collaborate on cell signalling and organization. Professor Shashikumar Chitre, of the Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences, University of Mumbai, visited Dr Christopher Tout (Institute of Astronomy) to further their research on the stellar convection zone.

Professor Dhruv Raina from the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational StudiesSchool of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, was a visiting scholar at Cambridge over Easter term. He collaborates closely with Dr Sujit Sivasundaram (Faculty of History) and Professor Simon Schaffer (Department of History and Philosophy of Science) via their AHRC Network Grant on ‘Global histories of science’.

Memorandum of understanding with IISc Bangalore

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Cambridge’s Department of Engineering and the Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The parties have agreed to collaborate in the field of nano-bio systems for use in healthcare applications, and will be supported by the UKIERI grant to Professor Arokia Nathan (below).

April 2014

A joint research team from Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (led by Professor Sir Mike Gregory, Head of the IfM); the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar; and the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow; kick-started a £1 million project grant awarded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and India’s Department of Science & Technology (DST) with a workshop in New Delhi on 9 April. The project will investigate engineering-driven sustainable supply networks in four industries of national importance – Aerospace, Automotive, Pharmaceutical and Food Processing.

Helen Pennant, Director, Cambridge Trust, visited New Delhi in April 2014 where she discussed PhD and Postdoctoral scholarships with the Indian Department of Science and Technology and the Science and Engineering Board. She also had a productive conversation with the Public Health Foundation of India, wherein both sides expressed their interest in renewing the previously active PHFI-Cambridge Scholarship, and will work together to identify potential funding sources.

March 2014

Cambridge-India research collaborations awarded funding

Three collaborative research projects at the University of Cambridge have been awarded funding in the latest round of Thematic Partnerships awards from the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), announced in March 2014. The UKIERI awards are part of the largest ever education initiative between the two countries, and to date has committed over £25 million since its inception in 2006. The latest awards, which are co-funded with the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India, or the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST), depending on the subject area, aim to strengthen engagement between institutions in the two countries by directly supporting research as well as by promoting two-way mobility for students, post-docs, and faculty.

Professor Arokia Nathan, of the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE), has received funding for a collaborative project with researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Their research will explore ‘design and prototype development of an active matrix user interface for social healthcare’, which is a project that ultimately aims to develop highly mobile, low-cost healthcare devices that can be used for monitoring various health parameters such as blood pressure, in rural settings away from healthcare providers. Professor Nathan said: “India and the UK face many common social healthcare needs, which current bio-medical technologies cannot fully meet. UKIERI brings together some of our best researchers to work to solve our shared challenges”.

Professor Sir Richard Friend, of the Department of Physics, will also be collaborating with IISc Bangalore, on a research project exploring ‘multiple carrier generation in fission enhanced polymer solar cells’. The project will supplement his ongoing work with the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, on advancing the efficiency of solar cells.

Dr Shailaja Fennell at the Centre of Development Studies was awarded funding for a collaborative research initiative with the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras. The project will aim to understand how bottlenecks that limit Internet access for rural agricultural production and community based tourism can be removed.

Including these awards, the University of Cambridge is now the lead partner in 6 UKIERI thematic projects ranging in areas from studying implications for earthquake hazard assessment, to understanding the UK and Indian food markets, and the manufacture of low-cost electroluminescent devices.

Winners of Bangalore-Cambridge Biotech Innovation Contest Visit Cambridge

The two winners of the Bangalore-Cambridge Biotech Innovation Contest for Bangalore companies, which was launched in September 2013 by Dr Vince Cable, the UK’s Secretary of State (Minister) for Business, Innovation and Skills, visited Cambridge for two weeks in March 2014.

The contest, organised by the Science & Innovation Network, along the University of Cambridge, as part of the Bangalore-Cambridge Innovation Network, was launched as part of the GREAT Britain campaign to find the city’s most innovative Biotech or Medtech Company looking to expand overseas. Speaking at the launch in Bangalore, Dr Cable had said: “Economic recovery remains a central priority for the UK and our industrial strategy is a key element in giving businesses the confidence to invest. We have always had a special relationship between our countries and I am keen to push business collaboration much further as we work towards doubling trade with India by 2015.”

One of the winners, Jubilant Biosys Ltd visited Cambridge seeking research and business partners for fragment-based drug discovery project in cancer research, while the other winner, Metaome Science Informatics Pvt Ltd, a life-sciences-focussed ‘big data’ company, aimed to explore possibilities of developing novel computational products by partnering with the Cambridge’s computer science and biosciences community.

Hosted at the University’s business incubator, ideaSpace, both companies reported a series of early-stage conversations with a range of firms, venture-capitalists, and academia in the Cambridge cluster, including highly-fruitful discussions with the academics at the Cambridge Judge Business School, King’s College London, Queen Mary Research Institute, and the University of Nottingham; biotech companies such as Astex, Cellcentric, and Xention; networks such as One Nucleus and the Cambridge Capital Group; the cross-border business advisory provider, AcceleratorIndia; and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL). It is anticipated that a number of links which have been established over the visit will be further enhanced, deepening the existing Cambridge-Bangalore innovation network.

February 2014

Pro-Vice Chancellor's visit to India: Dr Jennifer Barnes, PVC for International Strategy, led a visit involving the International Strategy Office (ISO) and Development and Alumni Relations (CUDAR) to India in February. The visit covered 5 key cities (New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai), and will be instrumental in determining priority focus areas for the coming months.

Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh announced on 3 February, at the 101st Indian Science Congress, that Prof Azim Surani (Director of Germline and Epigenomics Research , Gurdon Institute) had been awarded the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, which allows eminent foreign scientists to work in India for 12 months over a 3 year period. Prof Surani will work for the Fellowship period at the Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) in Bangalore.

A seminar series on "Education in India: A Multidisciplinary Exploration" was launched by the Centre for Commonwealth Education at Faculty of Education, coinciding with the appointment of Dr Pauline Rose as the new Professor of International Education at the Faculty. The first talk was delivered by Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes from the Centre for South Asian Studies on "Visual methods of teaching South Asian history", and the second by Dr Sriya Iyer from the Faculty of Education on the "Economics of religion in India".

January 2014

A joint application for funding under the Thematic Partnerships strand put forward by Dr Shailaja Fennell at the Centre of Development Studies and collaborators at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras to UGC-UKIERI was successful. The project will aim to understand how bottlenecks that limit Internet access for rural agricultural production and community based tourism can be removed.

Prof Sharon Peacock, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the Department of Medicine, organized a three-day workshop on infectious disease at the Indian Institute of Science, in partnership with the St John's Research Institute, Bangalore. The workshop, which was funded by the India-UK Scientific Seminar award and attended by Prof Duncan Maskell, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, is expected to help initiate a number of longer-term research links between the three partner institutions.