The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to Russia to head the Council of the academic programme at St Petersburg University
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to the Russian Federation Pavan Kapoor and Consul General of India in St Petersburg Kumar Gaurav have visited St Petersburg University. They met the Rector of St Petersburg University to discuss the issue of opening joint academic programmes with Indian partners and outline priority areas for cooperation.
Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, addressed the guests with a welcoming speech. Each academic period, the number of Indian students who have chosen St Petersburg University to receive a high-quality Russian education is increasing, said the Rector. This year, the number of applicants from India who sent applications to St Petersburg University was 166 people.
India is our friend. We are glad that your languages are taught at the University, and we have the opportunities to study Indian history, culture and literature. St Petersburg University is ready to accept more of your students, because India is one of the priority countries for us.
Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University
Among the key topics of the meeting was the Rector’s proposal to expand the study of the Indian language from narrow linguistic areas to academic programmes in the field of history, philosophy, psychology, medicine, and tourism. ‘St Petersburg University is ready to develop the disciplines that focus on modern India, its traditions and social development,’ said Nikolay Kropachev. ‘It seems to me that the Indian component should penetrate many of our academic programmes in the field of natural and social sciences. We would like to use more Indian literature in the teaching and learning process, jointly prepare educational materials, create online courses, and develop exchange programmes for students and academic staff.’
In response to this initiative, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to the Russian Federation Pavan Kapoor expressed his readiness to provide support in opening joint academic programmes and promoting the Indian culture into the programmes. ‘I agree that knowledge about India should find its place in the academic programmes and at the University. We can also interact at the level of academic exchange programmes for academic staff and send our lecturers for one semester or even longer,’ Pavan Kapoor said.
St Petersburg University supports active academic ties with universities and research centres in India. Over the past five years, the outgoing mobility of academic staff between St Petersburg University and Indian educational institutions amounted to 29 people, while 60 specialists arrived from India to the University during this period.
The Rector of St Petersburg University highlighted the need to sign direct cooperation agreements with the Ministry of Education of India. On the example of the agreement with the Ministry of Education of China in 2015, Nikolay Kropachev presented the opportunities that opened up not only for the University, but also for educational institutions in the partner country.
Over the eight years of cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, the number of academic programmes with a Chinese component has increased tenfold. Today, St Petersburg University is implementing about 90 programmes with an in-depth study of the language, law, economics, tourism, and culture of China. The number of students from China has increased almost fivefold. More than 2,000 Chinese citizens are studying at St Petersburg University. Previously, their number did not exceed 500 people. Over 1,000 Russian-speaking students are studying Chinese. ‘We are effectively developing relations with universities and organisations in those countries where we have direct agreements with the ministries of education,’ said Nikolay Kropachev.
I am confident that if we sign an agreement with the Indian Ministry of Education, we will rapidly advance in our cooperation. It is our priority. We understand that India is the direction that we must develop.
Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University
The Rector invited the guest to take part in the work of the councils of the academic programmes, which are designed to strengthen cooperation between the University and potential employers. Nikolay Kropachev added that the teaching and learning process at the University should not be limited to studying Indian languages. The University is a leader in Europe in the number of Indian languages that are studied at the University. The Indian component, like Chinese, Hungarian or Turkish, should penetrate into a range of disciplines with a focus on intercultural communication.
‘We will cooperate with you as we know your potential and your capabilities. I mean not only cooperation on the level of translations or centres for the study of language and culture, but also those interaction options that we have discussed. I will personally monitor the development of our relations in these directions,’ the diplomat responded to the Rector’s proposals and agreed to head the council of the academic programme ‘Russia and India: Intercultural Communication’.
During the meeting, the parties also identified a number of problematic issues to work on. According to Nikolay Kropachev, despite the activity of language testing centres (currently there are 120 University centres in 53 countries around the world), St Petersburg University does not have the right to take the Hindi exam and issue a state-approved certificate upon successful completion of the test. ‘We would be happy to participate in the development of a testing system in India and would be ready to offer such an exam so that our lecturers, students and Russian citizens could study or work in India,’ said the Rector of St Petersburg University.
In turn, Pavan Kapoor expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and made a proposal to donate 51 books on the culture, history, political-economic situation, and religion of India to St Petersburg University. According to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India, the start of relations could be the opening of an Indian corner. Such a literary space, he is convinced, can eventually turn into a wide-ranging centre of Indian culture. ‘Everything we have discussed is extremely interesting projects and attractive proposals. Yet, they require careful thought and elaboration. The Indian corner can become the beginning of our interaction,’ said Mr Pavan Kapoor.
The parties need to decide on priority tasks of cooperation to formulate a more accurate request for ministries and other offices and concentrate resources on specific tasks, said the Indian Ambassador.
At the end of the meeting, the parties agreed to send official proposals for the development of education, research and international cooperation to the Indian Embassy in the Russian Federation and to initiate cooperation with the Ministry of Education of India.