The European Union and the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) inaugurated the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for European Union Studies in India (CEEUSI) on 8 March 2019. This Centre of Excellence is supported by the European Union through its Erasmus+ cooperation in higher education, with the prestigious Jean Monnet actions, the highest recognition for any European Studies programme. The CEEUSI at JNU will provide greater visibility to EU studies in India and South Asia. Together with Manipal Academy for Higher Education, JNU is one of only two Centers of Excellence awarded EU funds in India.
The JNU Vice Chancellor Prof M Jagadesh Kumar welcomed the setting up of the Centre in JNU and said it will help expand the range of options available to students and researchers. With the establishment of the CEEUSI network and its activities, the European Studies Centre at JNU will be able to provide a wider platform to other academic scholars and institutions in promoting EU-related activities in India.
Presiding over the programme, the Ambassador of the European Union to India, Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, stated, “We are delighted to support the Centre of Excellence at JNU. EU-India relations are moving to an exciting new phase with the launch of the new EU Strategy for India in November 2018. One of the focus areas in the new Strategy is on more people to people exchanges and cooperation in education and skills. The new Centre of Excellence at JNU will provide additional opportunities to students and researchers to work on EU studies in India.”
Mr. G Balasburamanian, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, welcomed the latest EU Strategy on India and said the Indian government looks forward to further developing its relationship with the EU and its Member States. He mentioned that academic rigour and scholarship are essential in learning about the EU.
The EU presidency trio (Romania, Austria and Finland) were also represented at the event. The Romanian Ambassador to India, Mr Radu Octavian Dobre, representing the current EU presidency, and Mr. Matthias Radosztics from the Embassy of Austria and Mr. Erik Hallstrom from the Embassy of Finland, extended support to the Centre.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Chintamani Mahapatra, Rector, JNU, recalled the role and contribution of Jean Monnet to building peace in Europe which led to the process of European integration. Prof. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailley, Jean Monnet Chair, University of Victoria, Canada, said this Centre would help Indian policy makers better understand the intricacies of EU institutional mechanisms.
Under the guidance of Prof Gulshan Sachdeva, who is already a Jean Monnet Chair, the Centre for European Studies (CES) at the School of International Studies will administrate the three-year project at JNU. With seven core faculty members and about sixty research scholars, this department is already a leading Centre of European studies in India. In the past, European Studies at JNU received three Jean Monnet Chairs (Prof Rajendra K Jain , Prof Gulshan Sachdeva , Prof Ummu Salma Bava  and a Jean Monnet Module (Dr Sheetal Sharma, 2017).
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has already recognised the CES as a leading department of European Studies through its special Area Studies grant for Europe. Apart from civil services, many CES alumni are actively engaged in Europe related research activities in various Indian universities, prominent Indian think tanks and NGOs.
Coordinator of the programme, Prof Gulshan Sachdeva explained that the CEEUSI will encourage and coordinate EU related activities of these scholars. Apart from producing a textbook on the EU for Indian students (both in English and Hindi), the Centre plans to organise major conferences on current European issues and EU-India relations. These activities will also improve the EU component in JNU teaching and research. The CoE will help JNU further strengthen its linkages with European universities and think tanks. In addition, CEEUSI will strengthen the capacities of the existing Centre for European Studies through better infrastructure, networks and outreach activities.
During the launch, a new book Challenges in Europe: Indian Perspectives was also released. The book is edited by Prof Gulshan Sachdeva and published by Palgrave.
Jean Monnet activities
Jean Monnet activities aim to develop EU studies worldwide. For over 25 years they have been supporting study modules, chairs and centres of excellence to promote excellence in teaching and research on the European integration process at higher education level. Networks and projects under Jean Monnet foster cooperation and transfer of knowledge and good practice in this area. The programme also supports policy debate with the academic world and a number of associations in the domain of EU studies.
Since 2014, 13 projects and three networks involving partners from India have been selected under the Jean Monnet programme. In 2018 Manipal Academy of Higher Education was chosen to develop a Centre of Excellence in European Studies. In the same year, Chitkara University joined the club of Jean Monnet recipients in India with a module on 'Decoding the European Union.'
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