WASHINGTON: To maintain the momentum of growth, a "pipeline of talent" is needed for India and the US, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an event here to highlight the two nations' shared priorities around education and workforce. He was participating in the 'Skilling For Future Event' organised by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on Wednesday and his visit to the organisation was hosted by First Lady Jill Biden.
The prime minister also highlighted the initiatives undertaken by India to promote education, research and entrepreneurship. "I am really happy to have got an opportunity to interact with young and creative minds here. India is working on several projects in collaboration with the NSF. I thank First Lady Jill Biden for planning and organising this event," Modi said.
Explaining the skilling mission of his government, Modi said for the bright future of youngsters, it is important to have education, skill and innovation, and India has worked in this direction. The National Education Policy (NEP), education and skilling have been integrated. Under the Skilling Mission, more than 50 million people have been trained, and another 15 million are being given training on the latest and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchains, Modi said while addressing a gathering.
To maintain the momentum of growth, "for India and the US, it is important to ensure a pipeline of talent", he said and added that his goal is to have this decade as "tech decade". The US has the world's top educational institutions and advanced technologies, while India the world's biggest "yuva (youth) factory", the prime minister said and added that he believes, the India-US partnership will prove to be the sustainable and inclusive engine for global growth.
Later in a tweet, Modi said, "Honoured that @FLOTUS @DrBiden joined us in a special event relating to skill development. Skilling is a top priority for India and we are dedicated to creating a proficient workforce that can boost enterprise and value creation." Welcoming the prime minister to the US, the First Lady said, "With this official visit, we are bringing together the world's oldest and world's largest democracies. But our relationship isn't just about governments. We're celebrating the families and friendships that span the globe, those who feel the bonds of both of our countries."
She said after years of strengthening ties, the US-India partnership is deep and expansive as we jointly tackle global challenges. "Mr Prime Minister, I know that education is an issue close to your heart as it is to mine. You work to ensure that all Indians, especially girls, which I love, have the opportunity to pursue an education and gain the skills they need for our modern workforce. It is so important, it is exciting to be able to show you some of the innovative programs our schools and businesses are creating for students here," Jill Biden said.
The NSF is headed by Indian American Dr Sethuraman Panchanathan. In the last year or so, several Indian Cabinet Ministers have visited its headquarters in Virginia. Prominent among them are Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. "PM @narendramodi and @FLOTUS @DrBiden participated in a unique event focused on promoting vocational education and skill development among youth. PM and @FLOTUS discussed collaborative efforts aimed at creating a workforce for the future. The PM highlighted various initiatives undertaken by India to promote education, research and entrepreneurship," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted along with pictures of the programme.
The NSF is an independent agency of the US government that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health. The First Lady thanked the NSF for hosting them. "There are students in this room who are discovering the inner workings of semiconductors starting in middle and high school or training for other cutting edge jobs...," she said addressing the gathering.
"If we want our economies to be strong, we need to invest in young people who are our future. We need to ensure that they have the opportunities that they deserve," Jill Biden said. Education is a cornerstone of the bond between India and the US, "one we hope to keep building and strengthening with this visit", she said. "Our universities are partnering together, leading research, and creating apprenticeships and internships that span the ocean. And, as we have seen here, students from both our countries are learning and growing alongside each other, discovering the people they want to become and building a better world, together.
Working side by side, our nations can create a safer, healthier, more prosperous future for everyone," Jill Biden said. NSF director Panchanathan said that India, as of this year, is the world's most populous country. "Promoting education opportunities and expanding India's technology sector have been key pillars of Prime Minister Modi’s vision for the country," he said.
Modi arrived here from New York where he led a historic event at the UN Headquarters earlier in the day to commemorate the 9th International Day of Yoga, attended by UN officials, diplomats and prominent personalities. Prime Minister Modi is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and the First Lady. In his departure statement, Modi said this "special invitation" from President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a state visit is a reflection of the vigour and vitality of the partnership between the democracies.