Ian Felton, British Deputy High Commissioner, Bangalore, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vivienne Fenandoe and Varun Ramesh

Exeter is first UK university to establish representation in Bangalore

The University of Exeter has become the first UK university to establish representation in the Indian city of Bangalore. The University of Exeter and the British Deputy High Commission Bangalore held an official launch event on Wednesday 16 November, hosted by Minister of State for Universities and Science the Rt Hon David Willetts MP.

At the event, which was held in Bangalore, Indian and UK dignitaries celebrated the long-standing links between the University of Exeter and India and the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship.

The University of Exeter’s representation in Bangalore will accelerate the development of partnerships and research links with Indian universities. Through its presence there, the University will also support its India-based alumni and develop an internship and graduate placement service for its students in India.

During a four-day visit to Bangalore, the Vice-Chancellor and senior colleagues are visiting several of India’s most prestigious academic institutions to shape future partnerships and collaborations. This has led to the University of Exeter signing Memoranda of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Management (IIM-B), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter said: “We have been welcoming Indian students to our university for over 100 years. Since the 19th century hundreds of Indian students and staff have studied and taught at Exeter, helping to create a university of global standing. The launch of our representation in Bangalore is a hugely exciting new stage in the University’s engagement with India.

“We have chosen to work in Bangalore — the IT capital of India — because so many of our Indian research partners are here. We are proud to be the first UK university to have representation in this influential and dynamic city.”

The University of Exeter now has 180 Indian students studying across all levels, from foundation courses to PhDs. The University is conducting research with leading Indian universities to tackle issues as diverse as urban water management, marine conservation and discrimination against women in management.

The University of Exeter’s representation in India is operated through the ‘Base Camp’ scheme managed by business development consultancy Sannam S4. Its operations are managed by Vivienne Fenandoe (Project Manager) who was formerly Area Manager for Karnataka and Pune at IDP Education India, together with Varun Ramesh (Project Officer), who recently returned to Bangalore after graduating and working at the University of Leeds.

Working together: research partnerships between the University of Exeter and India

Advising on climate change

University of Exeter geographer Dr Stephan Harrison has been advising the Indian government on the links between climate change and national security. Stephan visited Delhi last year to present a paper entitled Climate Change: Implications for Future Security to India’s leading military think-tank, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The audience included the Heads of the Indian Army and Air Force, the Indian Defence Minister and military experts from China, Japan, Pakistan, Australia, Poland and the United States.

Dr Stephan Harrison said: “The impact of climate change on India may well be felt by increased variability in the monsoon and by changes in runoff from the Himalaya and Tibet. These will affect millions of people on the sub-continent and provide the impetus for future conflict and social instability.”

Mitigating food price inflation

Professor Steve McCorriston of the University of Exeter Business School has been working with researchers and policy makers in India for the last three years on food pricing issues and market reforms. The project involves a tri-partite arrangement between Exeter, academics from Australia (the universities of Melbourne and Monash), and the National Centre for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) based in New Delhi. The project has received over AS$500,000 worth of funding from the Australian government.

The project focuses on market reforms in the food sector with particular emphasis on the role played by the Food Corporation of India, the central state agency responsible for promoting food security and managing trade throughout India. The research takes novel approaches to dealing with deregulation issues and is targeted at senior policy makers in the Indian government with a view to providing an in-depth analysis of the options for reform in the Indian agricultural sector.

Professor Steve McCorriston says: “With food price inflation recently running at high levels, with millions of the poor and most vulnerable being food insecure, where the costs to the Indian government having increased substantially in recent years and the ineffectiveness of current policy interventions all too transparent, providing appropriate analysis that addresses policy reform and deregulation in Indian agriculture is a challenging task for economists to address and where the research directly matters to policy makers.”

The origins of iron and steel in India

A team of University of Exeter staff and students, led by Dr Gill Juleff of the Department of Archaeology, are part of a project to study the origins of high carbon steel-making in the southern Indian sub-continent. Funded by the prestigious and highly competitive UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), the ‘Pioneering Metallurgy’ project is a joint venture between Exeter and scientists at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore.

Criss-crossing the arid landscape of Northern Telangana, the team has explored and recorded archaeological sites where iron and steel were produced over the last two millennia. The area is renowned for the specialised production of crucible steel, sometimes called wootz, a material used in the manufacture of the fabled swords of Damascus. Islamic merchants and European travellers of the 18th and 19th century describe the area as one of the principal sources of wootz steel. The team has also interviewed traditional blacksmiths and the descendants of the last smelters of the region to record their memories.

According to Dr Gill Juleff: “While a great deal is known about wootz as a high quality material for making weapons, the underpinning indigenous metallurgical traditions and technologies from which this remarkable material emerged have not been studied. Our aim is to try to unravel both the chronological origins of iron smelting in the region and its technological development. To do this we are examining and recording sites where iron has been smelted from local ores. This means visiting rural villages and exploring forest areas to identify heaps of slag waste left by these processes.”

Predicting the Indian monsoon

The Indian summer monsoon provides about 80% of annual rainfall to around a billion people in South Asia, yet variations in its timing, intensity and duration have a dramatic impact on societies. A team of UK and Indian scientists, led by Professor Matthew Collins of the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, are investigating new methods to predict monsoon rains across the region.

The project, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), brings together scientists from Exeter, the UK Met Office and the University of Reading, and counterparts in India from IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IITM-Pune, IMD Delhi, the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and the Indian Centre for Climate and Societal Impacts Research in Gujarat.

Professor Matthew Collins says: “It remains a considerable challenge to predict seasonal, decadal and longer-term changes in the South Asian monsoon. This research brings together UK and Indian scientists to make progress in understanding what affects the South Asian monsoon on different time scales. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve predictive capability and to therefore potentially improve the lives of those people affected by monsoon rains.”

Read more case studies in our brochure Exeter and India - a collaboration.

Date: 17 November 2011

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