Research Horizons is the University of Cambridge’s research magazine.
Foreword for Issue 28 from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy:
This issue of Research Horizons is devoted entirely to India.
In 2010, following the announcement of his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz was asked to join a Prime Ministerial delegation to India. I was standing on a train platform when he called, asking for an analysis of our existing collaborations in India. What emerged surprised him, members of the University and many in India: well over 100 collaborations and partnerships, many forged over decades, others more recently. In providing this data, several academics expressed how they would welcome better recognition from the University of the value of these partnerships.
A lot has happened in five years, much of it thanks to the continued support of the Vice-Chancellor. We now lead 15 UK–India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) partnerships ranging from social healthcare to rural agriculture. Our conference on ‘Nehru and Today’s India’ was broadcast live on NDTV. Our work on multidrug-resistant tuberculosis has been recognised in laboratories co-located in Chennai and Cambridge, funded by the UK Medical Research Council and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT). The first postdoctoral fellows, based at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore and Cambridge, started this autumn. Annually, we test progress and seek advice from our India Circle of Advisors, based in India. To sustain our work, we are establishing a Section 8 Company in India, which will receive funds in India to support partnerships in India. And we are currently recruiting to the first five Fellowships funded jointly by Cambridge and DBT, in a new model whereby a Cambridge-appointed researcher spends 60% of their time in India, integrating their work with colleagues in India and Cambridge.
The articles in this issue give a sense (but only a sense; this issue showcases roughly a tenth of our current partnerships) of the breadth and ambition of our work. They reveal a restless University, continuing to redefine what it means to engage with the world. Some articles cover research by Indian nationals who hold appointments in Cambridge, others cover research by those who collaborate with their former students, based in India.
Yes, Cambridge brings approaches, technologies and theories, but we also are in India to learn. As Indian politician Meira Kumar, the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha, once pointed out: “India is a land of diversities, and there lies its strength. Ideas, religions and cultures have been encouraged to interact and create a powerful and unique synthesis, one that believes in the essential oneness of human beings.”
Cambridge is regularly cited in India and the UK as taking a distinctive approach, academically led, institutionally supported and premised on a need to understand what can be done to serve society. We’re there to address challenges in India because the challenges in India are the challenges we face together.
Dr Jennifer Barnes