According to Patricia Lacina, Chargé d'Affaires of the United States Embassy in New Delhi, 20% of all international students in the United States are Indian. Between May and June 2022, the US Embassy and Consulates in India issued a record 82,000 student visas to Indians pursuing various courses at American universities.
Chargé d'Affaires Lacina was speaking at the virtual U.S. Study Abroad Fair in New Delhi, terming the record number of Indian students as an opportunity for both countries. Lacina said: “The United States welcomes Indian students, and we value their contributions to US campuses and communities. Much of the 75 years of US-India diplomatic relations is built on the exchange of knowledge and the lifelong friendships rooted in study abroad.”
The fair was organized by EducationUSA, a Department of State run network of international student advising centers in 178 countries, under the Office of Global Educational Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
One of the earliest records of an Indian student in the United States was Dr. Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, who studied medicine at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (now part of Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia), arriving from Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1883. Dr. Joshi received her degree in 1886 but died shortly thereafter due to tuberculosis upon her return to India. Dr. Joshi’s ashes were brought back to America and thereafter buried at a cemetery in Poughkeepsie, New York.
There has been a considerable increase in the number of Indian students since 1883. Data collected by IIE Open Doors shows that more than 27% of foreign students in Illinois are Indians, followed by almost 22% in Texas, 18% in New York, and 13.7% in California, a far cry from Dr. Joshi’s time.
The exchange of students and ideas across the two countries is expanding in many directions. In June 2022, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced the launch of the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative, “which brings together 20 emerging young civic leaders from India and the United States to advance civil rights, social justice, and inclusion on the local, national and international levels by exploring the histories and legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
The trajectory of US-India relations continues to expand in various sectors. For Indian students, America remains the most sought-after destination for a university degree and a bright future.
Aryan D’Rozario is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Aryan received his master’s degree from the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, studying Modern South Asia.