Archive for January 17th, 2006

Small countries can teach us so many things!

January 17, 2006

It was a special occasion to meet with Irish Prime Minister Mr. Bertie Ahern over lunch at Hotel Taj Residency today (January 17, 2005). It is probably one of the first ever visit by Irish PM. The delegation that he was leading had 100 business people and an equal number from academia, officials and diplomatic staff. The Prime Minister spoke exceptionally well, highlighting the emergence of Ireland into the third largest exporter in the world with exports of $ 85 Billion and a two-way trade of $ 135 Billion; that too for a country with a population of just 4 Million! Ireland is a leader in high-tech industry, particularly computer software. The Prime Minister talked of India’s software industry and even mentioned about Tom Friedman’s book “The world is flat” and emphasized the fact that the book was inspired by the author’s conversations with Nandan Nilekani in Bangalore. It was a proud moment of for many Bangaloreans like me in the audience.

The PM’s delegation had several dozen people from academia. The Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Kenneth Bell & Director of Research Professor Trveor Newsom as well as Professor Satish Kumar from the 150-year old Queens University in Belfast and the Head of International Office of the University of Ulster Professor Joan Reilly were the people I interacted with.

With such small countries building, nurturing, growing and marketing their higher education Institutions, one cannot feel sad when we see the “powers that be” stifling the growth of our Institutes of Higher Learning. The PM-led delegation from Ireland is learning from us; when will we learn from them?