Dublin, June 13: Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has launched a twin India-focussed initiative at the Trinity College in Dublin during a visit that helped spark a renewed interest in India at the 417-year-old university.
The university announced the establishment of an India chair and a post in Indian studies to coincide with Kalam’s visit on Friday – held amid a warming of India-Irish ties and plans for greater collaborations in education and science and technology.
The post in Indian studies has been sponsored by groups representing the 25,000-strong Indian community in Ireland while the India Chair will be funded by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), Trinity Provost John Hegarty said.
The university hopes the move will attract more Indian students, particularly in the fields of science and technology, where the numbers of Irish students have been falling.
“At the moment we have around 100 Indian students. We can quadruple that without a problem,” Mr. Hegarty told IANS.
“We want to attract the best Indian students. The motivation is not only financial – we have to make sure we are delivering quality as well. The experience of every student while they are in Trinity is vital to us,” he added.
Trinity College, which figures in lists of the world’s top 100 and Europe’s top 50 universities, has a historic connection with India dating back to 1762, when it established its Chair of Oriental languages
The links grew exponentially in the second half of the 19th century when it hosted an India Civil Service School, which supplied over 150 graduates to the ICS, the bureaucratic service that ran the British Raj.
The author of the first Linguistic Survey of India (1898-1928), a mammoth compilation, was Trinity graduate George Grearson – a mathematician-turned Sanskrit scholar who too joined the ICS.
Mr. Hegarty said the university now wanted to build upon those historical links and was particularly keen to attract young Indian researchers in science and technology, having set up a 75 million-euro research institute for Nano science.
“We only upped our game in India two years ago. We want to be a magnet for the best students from India and elsewhere,” he said.
“Ireland has a problem of brand recognition as a country. We want to tell Indians that here they have another English-speaking country in Europe.”