King’s India Institute launch

King’s College London held the official inauguration ceremony yesterday for its new India Institute, which is aiming to become the leading international centre for the study of contemporary India. The Institute is one of a network of Global Institutes at the College focused on UK engagement with 21st century world powers.

The event, coinciding with India’s Republic Day, was attended by Rt Hon William Hague MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and Acting Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Rajesh Prasad, reflecting the growing importance of the UK’s relationship with India.

The King’s India Institute is part of a major initiative by King’s to establish a set of Global Institutes to focus on contemporary developments in fast-changing parts of the world. Together with the Brazil and China Institutes, the aim is to focus on the emerging powers in a contemporary setting, with interdisciplinary teaching and research drawn from across the arts and humanities, policy, science and health disciplines. King’s has also recently announced the creation of a new Russia Institute to add to the existing network, due to open in 2013.

As part of the College’s broader internationalisation strategy the Global Institutes aim to contribute to a growing understanding of specific nations and regions that will be 21st century cultural, political and economic powers.One of the key priorities of the King’s India Institute will be to promote an understanding of India and develop the profile of Indian Studies at the university level in the UK, while also building links with Indian organisations in education, the cultural and creative sectors, business and government. Through these activities, the Institute aims to contribute to a growing interdisciplinary interest in India among both students and academics at King’s.

After a welcome by Lord Douro, Chairman of King’s Council, Rt Hon William Hague MP, gave the inaugural speech at the ceremony. He said: ‘This new Institute at King’s could not have come at a better time. Now is the time to study India, to invest in India and to work with India. The rise of India and other nations is good for the people of those countries; it is good for the world; and it brings immense opportunities for a country like Britain that is able to seize them.

‘I wish the King’s India Institute and its students every success in the coming years. It is inspiring to think of all those who will expand our intellectual horizons and cement our ties with India in the years to come by studying here.’

From left: Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Principal of King’s, Rt Hon Lord Patten of Barnes, Rt Hon William Hague MP, Lord Douro, Chairman of King’s Council, Professor Sunil Khilnani, Director and Avantha Chair, King’s India Institute and Gautam Thapar, Chairman & CEO Avantha Group. Photo: Dominic Turner.

The Institute is led by Professor Sunil Khilnani, who joined as founding Director last year, and became Avantha Chair in November. Speaking at the launch he said: ‘King’s College London is manifestly the right place for our new India Institute. King’s is an invigorated university expanding its global research footprint and its engagement with the world – through its student body, its faculty, and its partnerships. Its spirit today is one of innovation and experimentation – as is ours.

‘The India Institute is uniquely designed to enable study of modern India in a way that is unusual in the academic world – through a range of disciplines – from security, peace and conflict studies, terrorism, politics, law. globalisation and development studies. Our students will develop skills to contribute to contemporary India’s human development and international influence, and ultimately to worldwide understanding of India’s changing global role. With the comparative framework offered by the Brazil, China and the upcoming Russia Institute, the programmes at the India Institute are uniquely designed to equip students with the skills and awareness necessary for a successful future in the global economy.’

The Principal of King’s College London, Professor Sir Rick Trainor, closed the official inauguration ceremony saying: ‘We are excited by the significant milestones already achieved by Professor Khilnani and his team at the King’s India Institute. Although still in its infancy, the India Institute is in an extremely strong position to assist in developing the UK and Europe’s understanding of, and engagement with, contemporary India.’

‘We hope the India Institute, along with the other Global Institutes at King’s, will contribute to and further encourage genuine internationalisation of the UK’s higher education sector, and foster stronger links between Indian and UK higher education.

The Institute is rapidly becoming a focal point in the British capital for research and teaching on contemporary India. Members of the Institute are actively engaged in dialogue and debate with government, policy-makers, media and industry in India, the UK and beyond. They have relationships with a number of universities and research organisations in India. This includes the strategic partnership between King’s College London and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi.

The research agenda of the Global Institutes is also contributing significantly to the College’s landmark World questions
King’s answers campaign, which is how over half way towards its 500 million goal. One of the key campaign themes is Leadership & Society, with fundraising efforts targeted towards addressing some of the major challenges we face in the 21st century by increasing our knowledge and understanding of areas of global strategic importance. The aim is an international, multi-faceted outlook, sharing knowledge with decision-makers planning for the world’s future.

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