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Indo-Kiwi Joint Venture to boost higher education

The Indian and New Zealand Governments will establish an Education Council to tap the huge potential in research and skills development to achieve mutually rewarding results, Prime Minister John Key announced in the Indian capital on June 28.

He said an Agreement signed with the Indian Government, provided for a joint-funding programme to foster higher education, research and training.

The Council will become operational in September this year, with an annual funding of $1 million, with equal contribution by the two Governments.

Mr Key signed the Agreement with his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh, signalling a new area of cooperation between the two countries.

He said New Zealand and India enjoyed cordial bilateral relations and that it was time to take those relations to the ‘next level.’

“New Zealand‘s education relationship has gone well beyond just education recruitment. This new initiative aims to strengthen that relationship even further and increase academic links between our countries and open up new opportunities to collaborate on education services,” Mr Key said at a media conference.

Although modest, the $1 million joint venture is expected to pave the way for cooperation at greater levels in the future. Both countries are well known for their research activities and the formation of the new Council would help in synergising efforts in several areas.

However, India and New Zealand face the challenge of mobilisation of human resources and development of skills suitable to their needs and be responsive to the evolving trends in their respective economies.

According to Mr Key, the Council would help India bring together a range of education and skills development funding agencies and provide New Zealand with a simplified one-stop-shop to achieve the objectives.

“This will promote a close and collaborative government relationship and foster movement by our respective sectors,” he said and hoped that the Council would become a flagship of bilateral relations with India.

A detailed analysis of the terms of reference of the Council and the benefit it would accrue to New Zealand will appear in an ensuing issue.

Pact to promote film ventures signed

During his two-day stay in New Delhi, Mr Key also signed an Agreement with Dr Singh to promote production of films in either country.

The ‘Film Co-Production Agreement’ will be an effective vehicle for the film industry in New Zealand and India and enhance co-investment, joint creative input and film crew interaction, he said.

“India is a rapidly rising player in the region and we want to build on our already strong cultural and economic ties. There are significant potential benefits for our creative industries in gaining access to the Indian film market,” he said.

Although the UK, US and South Africa continue to be the major destinations for Indian film producers for location shooting, New Zealand has been gaining increasing importance in recent years.

The trend began with Kahona Pyar Hai, a Hritik Roshan blockbuster more than ten years ago and since then, many Indian films in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu have been picturised in various locations in New Zealand. More recently, I Hate Luv Stories and Players were made in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Mr Key and his delegation witnessed the shooting of a scene for Players in Film City (Mumbai) on June 29, 2011.

“Film Co-Production Agreements allow approved film and television projects to gain the status of ‘Official Co-Productions,” which give film projects access to the benefits accorded to national films in each of the Co-Producer countries. This includes access to funding and incentives, as well as facilitating temporary immigration and importation of equipment,” Mr Key said.

Mr Key, Bronagh Key, Indian High Commissioner Retired Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Teresa Mehta and New Zealand delegation visited the Taj Mahal in Agra on June 27.

Earlier on June 28, Mr Key and Bronagh Key were accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan (Presidential Palace) by Dr Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur. Thereafter, Mr Key met with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and exchanged talks about improving bilateral relations.

More detailed stories of Mr Key’s visit to India will appear in our next issue.

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