My Fulbright Experience in Aligarh, India

Afzal A. Siddiqui, PhD
Grover E. Murray Distinguished Professor
Texas Tech School of Medicine

Through a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grant, I went back to my alma mater, Aligarh University, after over 30 years to spend six months teaching and researching. This turned out to be the most productive and rewarding experience of my life. So much has changed in the years I have been away from India. There is now a tremendous amount of Western influence in every walk of life that was not there when I left India in 1982. The benefits of free-market economy can be seen all over India – indeed this great country is definitely on the path of tremendous growth and development. This has also resulted in the expansion of academic institutions, many of which are now privately owned. I visited and gave seminars at several of these and was impressed by the outstanding talent.

My host institution has a top notch faculty specializing in a very important area of research, parasitology. The research they are carrying out is very relevant to India. They are developing newer and more sensitive methods to diagnose parasitic infections that cause high mortality and morbidity both in humans and animals. These faculty members also excel in teaching- still doing it the old fashioned way with chalk and a blackboard. I found the students to be attentive and dedicated. Students still stand up when the professor walks into a classroom to show their respect.

On the administrative front, the United States-India Educational Foundation staff is extraordinarily efficient, friendly and helpful. USIEF is headed by Adam Grotsky, a brilliant, pragmatic leader who has expanded the Fulbright Program in a very constructive manner. USIEF staff, Diya, Vinita, and Bharathi, have stellar organizational skills and they are always there to find a way for things to work smoothly for the Fulbrighters from the United States.  The impact of their hard work with the Fulbright Program can be seen in so many areas and this continues to influence academia in India in a positive manner.

Overall, Fulbright was a great experience for me both personally and professionally. I strongly recommend scientists from the United States to pursue this excellent program at least once in their life time. I would welcome anyone to contact me if they require any additional information before applying to this program.

India has approximately 80 U.S. scholar grants across four award categories for the 2014-15 academic year. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in India, also known as the Fulbright-Nehru Program, offers the largest number of Fulbright U.S. scholar grants worldwide.