Turning the Tide!



Its almost the tail end of 2021 and festivities galore in India!


A good place to start the blog is with many festivals marking the advent of autumn season, bringing cheer, gaiety and enthusiasm in the air. Its hard not to get soaked into the spirit of celebration, of course, with all the public health measures in place. I’d say it gets busy around here yet it offers much-needed flight from the mundane routine of life and, when whole of Indian sub-continent just lights up!


In the same spirit and breath of newness, I wish to extend a special welcome to the Honourable Sh. Dharmesh Pradhan, the new Minister of Education, Government of India, who took the reins of this important portfolio to navigate the agenda of National Education Policy and many more ambitious initiatives that are sure to bring more opportunities of growth and development in the higher education sector of India. I also welcome Mr. K. Sanjay Murthy, who is the newly appointed Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India. SICI looks forward to working with them! My sincere thanks to Mr. Amit Khare, who completed his term as the Secretary, Department of Higher Education, MoE and is now appointed as the Advisor-to the Prime Minister of India.


The string of congratulatory notes doesn’t end here. My heartfelt congratulations to the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau on his recent victory in the fall election and also to the newly appointed team of Canadian cabinet ministers! As I saw the unveiling of new cabinet by PM Trudeau, I couldn’t help feeling optimistic of the growing strategic partnership between our two democracies that have time and again paved way for achieving greater cooperation, advancing common interests and promoting unmatched people-to-people ties. Another history was made in the recently held mayoral elections in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My congratulations to Mr. Amarjeet Sohi, the first South Asian Mayor of the city of Edmonton and Ms. Jyoti Gondek, the first woman to be elected as Mayor in the city of Calgary! These stupendous political developments are sure to further boost our shared democratic values, and the way from here is only up & up. The very performance of people of Indian origin in these political domains speaks volume of the respect and recognition of Indians on the gobal stage.


Another progressive way of moving forward is building and benefitting from the institutional partnerships that are important for our academic community to thrive, evolve and grow. My recent interaction with Dalhousie University and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) during the signing ceremony of the collaboration and a research workshop on Cancer Immunotherapy brought to light the crucial role of SICI to support cluster-based collaborations and research in this bi-national corridor. Along with ‘Health’, SICI will soon be forming an ‘Agri’- cluster to form a consortium between its Indian and Canadian member institutions for building programmes, initiatives, conducting advanced research to develop new technologies and deploying new products for the benefit of agriculture community of both the countries. These partnerships will spur innovation for agricultural development and will have great advantages over other institutional arrangements fostering R&D. I am sure this would mark a milestone in furthering and facilitating right partnership of all-important stakeholders i.e. federal governments, state and provincial governments, industry, academia and other relevant bodies across all domains of higher education, research and economic sectors for R&D purpose.


While there are many theme-based days, weeks, and months we celebrate throughout the year to recognize issues, people, events of importance, the one that has captivated my attention is Women’s History Month. October is Women’s History Month in Canada that celebrate women and girls from past, present and who are actively contributing to a more inclusive Canada. This year the theme is more specific towards recognising women who have left a lasting impact on Canada, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic, through their efforts to bring about reconciliation, and also through their work and commitment. This also included International Day of the Girl (October 11) and Persons Day (October 18). Given its Canadian origin, I firmly believe, it still doesn’t stop us to take a moment to fully embrace the meaning and purpose of this initiative in our own respective countries and globally as well. The purpose of mentioning this in some detail is to explicitly acknowledge and accept that women are and have always been at the forefront of defining solutions to problems in the socio-economic fabric of our countries. The world history is full of daring examples, when these trailblazing women shaped the very course of development in their own countries of birth and even beyond the borders. Even though they make up approximately half of the world’s population, they are yet to fully discover, define and identify their strengths and successes and set goals to overcome obstacles, challenges in all areas of life. I personally feel that in this regard, the gap between the talk and the walk must be bridged and that the real time efforts require us to go beyond the routine efforts on inclusion and gender equality.



Innovation & Research at SICI’s Member Institutions!


From food delivery innovation to fintech and milk distribution startups to a clean energy firm/enterprise both India and Canada are witnessing an unprecedented emergence of innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs. Great examples of bridging tradition and modern technology appear everyday that provide solutions that are global by design yet local at heart. And, our scholars and fellows are filled with ambition and willingness and have transformed global markets and the corporate innovation. In a notable development, budding scientists of Indian Institutes of Technology, Ropar and Kanpur and Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi have developed world’s first, state-of-the-art living-plant-based air purifier “Ubreathe Life” that amplifies the air purification process in the indoor living spaces. On the other hand, IIT Kanpur-backed, Direct-to-Consumer wellness company called has received investment interest from all across.  The company founded by an engineering graduate, is focused on the circular economy that converts floral waste into charcoal free luxury incense products and other wellness products. It’s an excellent example of sustainable and eco-friendly waste flower management that has helped in the upliftment of hundreds of women as well. SciXchange, a centre founded by Ryerson University’s Faculty of Science, has been awarded the 2021 William Edmond Logan Award by the Royal Canadian Institute. The centre has been recognized for its innovative outreach programmes that reach a wide-ranging audience of youth and adults, as well as its work in actively addressing traditional imbalances in STEM disciplines. SciXchange delivers numerous initiatives and partnerships, that showcases the work of women and non-binary scientists and delivers free, hands-on engagement opportunities to schools and the community, etc. I have been writing about the upsurge of unicorns in India in the Covid era, which continues to grow further. As per a recently published report, fundraising by Indian startups crossed $10 billion in a three-month period for the first time in July-September 2021. Incredible performance! In total, 26 Indian startups have entered the unicorn club this year, including registration of record number of IPOs. This effort sees India moving from being data-rich to data intelligent with the use of machine-learning, and AI to find solutions to some of the pressing problems in the areas of health, water management, agriculture, environment, etc. Our member institutions have a big role in contributing towards this huge progress, making them globally competitive and tech-driven. Way to go!!!


In another landmark step taken by the Government of India to further boost higher education in the country is the inauguration of 9 Medical Colleges in the state of Uttar Pradesh by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the creation of these medical colleges, the purpose is to create two and a half thousand new patient beds, generate new employment opportunities and open a new path of medical education for hundreds of young scholars every year. And, like everyone else, I am also delighted to welcome another wonderful news about Air Canada launching a new thrice-weekly, non-stop flight between Delhi and Montreal from October 31. The airline has decided to increase its daily non-stop flights from Toronto to Delhi to 10 per week from October 15. This will certainly help strengthen scholars’ mobility, cultural and business ties between India and Canada.


We all have now transitioned quite seamlessly to the online/digital activities, learning, teaching, researching. I commend all for not losing their focus – to make it all work! I look forward to the day when we can all reconvene and meet in person to hail each other’s endeavours in transforming the very face of higher education and research in this important bilateral relationship. I will now catch up with you all in January with renewed hopes, ideas, goals and plans for our amazing intellectual community.


I wish all of you a very Happy & Safe Diwali, and lots of cheer and joy for the approaching Christmas season in advance.


Take care.



Dr. Prachi Kaul
Director's Corner is a dedicated page of curated articles penned by Dr. Prachi Kaul, Director, SICI, carrying insights in the higher education & research corridor between India and Canada, pivotal events, activities and notable accomplishments & developments occurring throughout the year.
Check out previous articles, here!
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