Embassy of India, Muscat celebrated the annual ‘ITEC Day’ on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. This year’s event was a special one as it marked the 50th year Golden Jubilee of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, popularly known with its acronym - ITEC. H.E. Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Bakri, Minister of Manpower was the Chief Guest.
Celebrated on the premises of the Indian Embassy, despite the inclement weather, the Dinner Reception in the evening was attended by a large gathering of about 250 guests comprising a large number of ITEC Alumni, Member of the Shura Council, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry, senior officials in the Omani Government, representing various Ministries, and media.
The ITEC Day provides an opportunity to the alumni, who have been trained in India under this Programme, for an annual get-together at the Embassy, as a platform to interact with them and learn from their experiences, which they share during the function. Accordingly, a number of ITEC alumni spoke at the event.
Delivering his welcome address, H.E. J.S. Mukul, Ambassador of India spoke on the highlights of the ITEC programme and its progress and expansion since its inception on 15th September, 1964 under the vision of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru that India would share its unique socio-economic development experience and technological achievements with other developing countries. He recalled that since India’s Independence in 1947, South-South Cooperation has been a fundamental pillar of India’s foreign policy and diplomacy aimed at meeting the challenges of socio-economic development, cooperative efforts among developing countries resting on a partnership based on solidarity and mutual respect & voluntary cooperation. It is in this context that India has been sharing its knowledge, expertise and experience gained over the years with our developing-country partners like Oman.
Traditionally known as the knowledge centre, India is today emerging as the IT and cutting-edge technology hub. Currently, with over 380 Universities, over 11000 colleges and 1,500 research institutions, India has the second largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world. In India, over 2.5 million graduates are added to the workforce every year, including 300,000 engineers and 150,000 IT professionals. The country's achievements in areas such as space-technology, computers, nuclear science, automobiles, pharmacy, manufacturing, biotechnology, energy, nanotechnology, aviation, theoretical physics and statistics, among others, shows that invention and innovation in India are now an important part of the economic activity. Briefly, India has one of the largest technical education systems in the world with a total of 14,123 degree-granting institutions and over 3 million seats in technical and professional education. This provides the back-stopping and resource base to be leveraged by ITEC.
ITEC Programme, fully-funded by the Government of India, has evolved and expanded over the years. Under ITEC, 161 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, East Europe, as well as Pacific and Small Island countries are invited to share in the Indian developmental experience in various fields. Every year India provides over 8000 scholarships through around 300 short, medium and long-term courses in 47 institutions which are state-of-the-art centers of learning & excellence. The ITEC programme covers a very diverse range of subjects from traditional areas like agriculture, SMEs, management, English language to leading-edge technologies covering IT, Science & Technology, biotechnology, etc. Over the years, the ITEC programme has generated immense goodwill and substantive cooperation among the developing countries.
The added skills which are being provided by ITEC facilitate human resource development, capacity building, skills upgradation and empowerment for increased jobs, and thus meet fully Oman’s goals to develop its human resources or capacity building through education, training and vocational courses. Also, Oman’s priority for increased jobs and diversification of its economy through small & medium enterprises (SMEs) dovetails fully with the ITEC programme. In addition to the civilian ITEC slots, India also increasingly provides military training to the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army of Oman. Ambassador urged the training departments and officials in various Ministries and establishments of Omani Government to take maximum advantage of India’s progress and innovation in various fields. The ITEC programme is also open to the private sector in Oman, which is also in conformity with the Sultanate’s policy of jobs creation through the private sector. In the last few decades, India has become a center for global research and development (R&D). India is emerging as a prominent hub for innovation and is expanding its investment in this field and is ready to share its experience with all friendly countries, including of course Oman.
Under the ITEC programme, India had been extending 50 fully-funded training scholarships to Oman annually up to FY 2011-12 covering technical and vocational training courses from traditional areas to cutting-edge technologies. Given the popularity of the ITEC programme in Oman, the number of ITEC scholarships for Oman had been increased to 85 in 2012-13, and thereafter to 125 during current financial year 2013-14. Keeping in mind our exceptionally close bilateral relations and Oman’s interest and optimal utilization, the Ambassador announced during the function that the ITEC scholarships for Oman have been further increased to 150 for the next financial year 2014-15 starting from April 1, which marks an increase of 200%, i.e., from 50 to 150, during the last two years.