HSE Launches India Corner at the School of Asian Studies
HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov and His Excellency Mr. D. B. Venkatesh Varma, Ambassador of India, formally opened the Corner with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the lighting of a ceremonial lamp before giving opening remarks. The event included a lively round table with eminent scholars, experts, and executives from India and Russia who discussed the phenomenon of start-up companies as well as potential areas for cooperation. The event concluded with Indian refreshments and friendly conversation.
A Bright Idea
The idea of opening the India Corner at HSE was conceived in 2016 by Professor Alexey Maslov, Head of the School of Asian Studies, and Indian Embassy Chief of Mission, Yojna Patel. The idea was to start a specialized programme dedicated to Indian Studies with a focus on economic issues in and related to India.
Given HSE’s position as one of Russia’s top Universities and a leader in economics and social sciences in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, the University made for a perfect partner for the government of India in organizing and conducting high-profile events—talks, round-tables, specialist visits, expert dialogues, etc.—not only to highlight India’s accomplishments in the economic sphere in recent years, but also to share ideas and stimulate engagement to further bolster its aims for inclusive growth in times to come, with Russia as a critical partner.
The Beginning of Strengthened Partnership
With financial and infrastructural support from the Ministry of External Affairs of India, HSE’s India Corner will serve as a focal center that will help identify ideas and possibilities for strengthening the special strategic partnership between India and Russia. This will further help leading Indian academic institutions and universities, particularly those leading in the economic sphere, to collaborate with HSE.
After a brief introduction by Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov, Rector Kuzminov gave his opening remarks to the launch ceremony. ‘We see today’s event not only as the establishment of Indian Corner, but as a symbolic step in the cooperation of Russia and India in economics, culture, education and science.’
Rector Kuzminov also noted that the biggest hurdle to bilateral cooperation is a lack of cultural understanding, in that it greatly impedes the ability of people in business and at municipal and local levels to communicate effectively with their international counterparts. In combating this challenge, ‘I believe it is up to the universities, especially, to broaden mutual cooperation in the sphere of culture and education,’ he said.
Ambassador Varma, too, underscored the significance of the occasion for Russia and India. ‘This is not only a symbolic occasion, but an occasion where we step into the future.’ And in light of the two countries’ economic similarities—both Russia and India have growing and modernizing economies, and both countries exist in a complex world in which international political and economic systems are changing rapidly—there is great potential for cooperation. ‘We need to find ways in which to minimize the risks and maximize the opportunities, and we can do this together in terms of partnerships’ he said. ‘As we modernize our economies, we need good partnerships at the research and developmental levels. And this center will definitely step in as a forum where we can bring together new ideas, new talent, young blood.’
In addition to announcing that the Indian Embassy will continue and deepen its support of the Corner and that the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) will also be partnering with the Embassy and India Corner, Ambassador Varma had some exciting news for HSE students. The Observer Research Foundation (ORF, an independent think tank based in India) will be offering to host and fully fund two young scholars from HSE to conduct work on India or India-Russian relations in India for up to 3 months.
As Professor Maslov stated, the India Corner is not just for the School of Asian Studies, and not just for those engaged with India, but ‘a place for all—an open space for dialogue and cooperation.’
Following the ceremony was a round-table co-moderated by Professor Alexey Maslov, Head of the School of Asian Studies, and Mr. Anjan Das, Executive Director of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), on ‘Why Venture Unicorns Grow Quickly in India’.
India ranks third worldwide (behind China and the US) in start-up growth, so this topic presented a particularly rich area for potential cooperation between India and Russia. A range of HSE scholars and Russian and Indian executives, entrepreneurs, and experts representing CII and select successful companies participated in the discussion. Speakers included Shashank Bijapur, CEO, and Madhav Bhagat of the start-up SpotDraft, Vsevolod Rozanov, Chief Deputy CEO of Sistema Asia Fund, Anton Loginov, Deputy Minister of Investment and Innovations of Moscow Oblast, Glev Ivanshentsov, VP of the Russian International Affairs Council, Oleg Teplov, CEO of VEB Innovations, and Sammy Kotwani, Chairman of the Indian Business Association, Olga Kulikova, Business Ambassador of Business Russia. A host of eminent personalities from various Russian Ministries, think tanks, economists, academicians, Indologists, business-organizations and media-persons were also in attendance.
Though dedicated to the topic of start-up companies, the round table touched upon a wide range of potential areas of collaboration between India and Russia, including cultural exchange and media. For example, as Glev Ivanshentsov suggests, why not start a promotional campaign for Indian cinema in Russia? Or, as Professor Olga Solodkova of the School of International Regional Studies noted, why not open an Indian Centre in Moscow?
Building upon a Tradition of Cooperation
The India Corner is not the first collaborative endeavour between HSE and Indian institutions. In fact, HSE currently has five agreements with institutions of India—one on student exchange and four on cooperation in fields including Law, Computer Science, and Statistics, as well one involving the HSE campus in Nizhny Novgorod.
HSE first developed contacts with Indian partners through their mutual cooperation in BRICS Network University, where HSE is a participant university in energy, BRICS research, ecology, water resources and pollution control, economics, ecology and water resources. In the field of economics, HSE is the coordinator in BRICS NU of Russia, the head of which is Professor Alina Shcherbakova of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs.
In 2017, the Embassy of India in the Russian Federation, in connection with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and the Russian Federation, acted as a partner of the XVIII April International Scientific Conference on the problems of economic development and society. The conference was attended by 2 honorary speakers from India (with the financial support of the Embassy of India): Professor Arunava Sen of the Indian Statistical Institute and Professor Ashwini Deshpande of The Delhi School of Economics.
In the period of 2016-2018, there were seven research projects conducted jointly with Indian specialists with the support of the HSE's Basic Research Programme.
DID YOU KNOW? India at HSE in Numbers:
45 Indian citizens are enrolled as students at HSE for the 2018-2019 academic year:
- 5 undergraduate students;
- 37 Master’s students;
- 1 student in the Preparatory Year programme;
- 2 free movers.
5 Indian citizens participated in the HSE International Summer University in 2018 (as opposed to 1 in 2016 and 3 in 2017).
The HSE faculty currently includes 2 professors and one senior lecturer from India.
On March 13, the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs’ Asian Club held a meeting where Professor Makhan Lal, Director of the Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management and Director of the Vikvekanand International Foundation, spoke on ‘Traditional Culture and Modern India’. He kindly agreed to give an interview to the HSE news service and share his thoughts on the role of traditional culture and values in modern society.