Union cabinet approves several MoUs with US

New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US, the union cabinet Wednesday approved a number of agreements between the two countries.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that in a meeting chaired by the prime minister, the cabinet agreed on India participating in the construction of a 30-metre telescope being built by the US in Hawaii.

The telescope will be constructed at a cost of $1.47 billion by an international consortium consisting of institutions from the US, Canada, Japan, India and China.

India has earmarked Rs.1,299.8 crore for it.

Another MoU between the two nations pertains to cooperation in "gas hydrates".

"This is for cooperation in exploring natural gas in marine sediments," Prasad said.

The US Department of Energy (USDoE) in the field of gas hydrates, will facilitate active participation of the National Gas Hydrate Programme (NGHP) and DoE scientists in data collection, analysis and identification of sites for pilot production testing.

On a number of initiatives announced on education, the cabinet gave its approval for signing a joint declaration between India's human resource development (HRD) ministry and the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the US, to initiate a new programme titled Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education.

Another agreement will be for cooperation and support to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Yet another one will be on a programme for partnership for "active learning for young aspiring minds".

"It will be an online education programme, and will be later integrated with national mission for education," Prasad said.

This Indo-US Partnership for Online Education (IUPOE) programme will comprise a mechanism that will enable the top universities of the US (top 100 in global rankings) to create and share postgraduate online courses (and associated assets) on the Indian "SWAYAM" platform.

SWAYAM is an online platform of the HRD ministry through which online programmes will be offered to students in India.

A deal to enhance cooperation on energy security, clean energy and climate change was also approved.

"These MoUs are a symbol of the growing cooperation between India and the US. It also symbolises the excitement in the US over the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," the minister said.

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