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US, India celebrate 70 yrs of Fulbright exchange program

New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) The United States and India on Sunday celebrated the 70th anniversary of the prestigious Fulbright exchange program which has awarded scholarships to over 11,000 Indians and Americans so far.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce who had flown in from Washington to attend the gala event in New Delhi, said, the Fulbright program, created by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, was designed to increase mutual understanding among the people of the United States and the people of other countries. It has now grown into the premier US international educational exchange program in the world.

“When Senator J. William Fulbright introduced the legislation establishing this program, he said it was about leadership, learning, and empathy between countries,” Royce said. “Tonight’s celebration is a testament to the importance and longevity of Senator Fulbright’s vision.”

The binational United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) was among the earliest of the Fulbright Commissions or foundations. On February 2, 1950, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and US Ambassador to India Loy Henderson signed a bilateral agreement to implement and administer a country Fulbright Program on behalf of the partner governments.

Since its inception, USIEF has awarded approximately 11,128 Fulbright Fellowships to Indians and Americans.

On July 4, 2008, the United States and India signed a historic new Fulbright agreement that made India a full partner in the governance and funding of the Fulbright Program. Following the new agreement, the Fulbright-Nehru Program has tripled in size. India now has the largest US Fulbright scholar program, which provides approximately 75 grants to US scholars to research and teach in India each academic year.

For more than 70 years, Fulbright has provided opportunities to some 390,000 American and international scholars and students.

At the celebrations organised by the USIEF, the American envoy to India, Kenneth I. Juster said, “The US-India relationship is growing rapidly. As I have said many times, I believe that the foundation of our partnership is our people-to-people ties. The Fulbright-Nehru program is a perfect example of the impact that our peoples have when they learn from each other and work together.”

Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla who also attended the event. While commending the program for facilitating mutual understanding, he spoke of historic bilateral ties and shared values of the US and India.

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