Mika Tirronen has been a Team Finland Knowledge specialist at the Embassy of Finland in New Delhi since September 2019. He has a PhD in molecular developmental genetics and studied the genetic regulation of the differentiation of the egg of a banana fly. His career in international positions first began as a programme manager at the Academy of Finland and then as a Senior Ministerial Adviser in education and science at the Embassy of Finland in Beijing. He has experience working in North America, Europe and Asia. More recently, Mika Tirronen has been involved in working with the rising oriental giants of China and India.
India – the world's largest incubator of talent
India is a mosaic of multicultural and pluralistic peoples. It is also the world's largest democracy – a country that you can best describe by using almost any superlatives that come to mind. While India boasts a rich tradition, it is also a resolute and rapidly growing superpower in many areas of science and technology. Its financial investments in science and technology (artificial intelligence, IoT, satellite and space technology, 5G/6G, biotechnology) in recent years aim to make India one of the world leaders in science. The target set for 2020 is to produce 7% of all scientific publications in the world.
India's best universities and research institutes (IISc, IIT) rank among the best 300–400 institutes in the world, depending slightly on the indicators that each comparison uses. In terms of scientific effectiveness, India's top institutes (IIT Indore, IIT Gandhinagar) take precedence over China's University of Tsinghua and Beijing (positions 267 and 281 – THE).
The expansion of India's own universities has curbed migration flows abroad, and with over half of its population aged under 25, India has the largest student-age population in the world. The number of highly talented people in relation to the high-quality education and employment opportunities available is shockingly high.
Finnish skills and knowledge to India or Indian students to Finland?
The education system in India is in need of an overhaul. With this in mind, the National Education Development Programme 2020 promises to address many key problems, such as regional disparities and gender inequality, school dropout rates and limited professional skills of teachers. The aim is to develop education and pedagogy in a more meaningful direction (= holistic, integrated, inclusive, enjoyable, engaging), and the relevance of educational content in relation to evolving and changing working life, society and technology will be improved.
Finnish schools, pedagogy, educational content and high-quality teacher education are all topics that emerge in discussions in India and arouse interest. The best schools in India are private ones whereas the best universities are public ones. This means that potential partners can be found in both the public and private sectors, and in formal and non-formal education.
Finland's country image is untarnished but dim, and the needs of Indian students are crystal clear: high-quality education that generates a good workplace, offering a good income (in relation to the costs of the education).
These are the things Finland could offer together, especially by means of coordinated and strategic measures.