Universidad de Valladolid heard the view of the Indian Leaders at a meet-and-greet with Faculty of Education students
Universidad de Valladolid’s Faculty of Education hosted this activity, which was attended by several members of the Indian Leaders Programme 2014 as well as José María Marbán, Vice-Chancellor of International Relations at Universidad de Valladolid; Guillermo Rodríguez, Managing Director of Casa de la India and Ignacio Fernández Sobrino, Managing Director of Onda Cero and Antena 3 as moderator.
The event began with a reflection on the role of education in India, a country with over 300 million students. According to Anustup Nayak, Vice President of XSEED Education, there are two challenges at the moment: “Preventing students from leaving university without the skills needed to succeed in the labour market and streamlining educators’ training.” Ajay Pandey, Dean of the Indian Institute of Management, stated that “It should be noted that 60% of the Indian economy is traditional, rural or agricultural.” Therefore, “we need to extend the population’s access to university and align higher education with the needs of the market to change the economy through education.”
The moderator, Ignacio Fernández Sobrino, mentioned the possibilities and the potential of ‘exporting’ the Spanish language to India: “Spanish is the second-most important language for Indian students after German,” said Ayeesha Banerjee, Education Editor at the Hindustan Times. In her opinion, it is necessary to implement strategies to spark curiosity about Spain, its culture, its language and its people. “My paper gives away a collection of books on several topics that has been widely successful. We could do something similar with Spanish books to answer the questions Indian people ask about Spain,” she said.
Vidya Yeravdekar, Director of Symbiosis Society, sought to offer context for her speech by describing the political transformation that India is undergoing. “There has been an important change with a new, charismatic Prime Minister. In education as well, we have a new Minister, a young 38-year-old woman with a fresh vision which, generally speaking, has got people really excited.” She also explained to attending students that “India has a lot to offer to young people.” According to Yeravdekar, France and Germany have important agreements with Indian universities and she hopes to start working with Spanish centres after the Leaders Programmes. She finished her address by concluding: “No matter what the political scenario is, we must foster exchanges between young people.”
During the Q&A, the students admitted that the main barrier is their lack of knowledge about India. “What does your country have to offer to Spanish students?” was one of the questions asked by the audience. R. K. Shevgaonkar, Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, admitted that the language is a great barrier, but also made it clear that in the education sector, science and technology are a universal language spoken by all. “We must use this advantage to foster cooperation, forge links, carry out joint research projects and, then, introduce social and cultural elements,” he said.
Guillermo Rodríguez closed the event by stressing the opportunities offered by India not only to Spanish young people, but also to future teaching graduates, as India needs Spanish teachers and offers excellent opportunities in the field of education. Lastly, he pointed at the work of Casa de la India as a platform to bring India closer to Spain, which could help overcome barriers.