Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
MR WUTOH: Good afternoon. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Ms. Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, Ambassador of India to the United States of America Ambassador Sandhu, Minister of External Affairs of the Government of India Minister Jaishankar, staff members of the Department of State, employees of the Embassy of India, alumni of exchange programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Howard University students, faculty, staff, and distinguished visitors, I’m Dr. Anthony Wutoh. I’m provost and chief academic officer of Howard University.
And it is certainly my pleasure to welcome you to the historic Founders Library, the national treasure of Howard University. The library is the home of the university’s museum and Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, one of the world’s largest repositories dedicated to the history and culture of people of African descent. It is also home to the bust of Mahatma Gandhi the Government of India gave to Dr. Martin Luther King when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The King family donated it to Howard University upon his death.
It is fitting that Howard is the setting in which to celebrate the educational and cultural exchanges that undergird the strong bilateral relationship between India and the United States of America. Indian and Indian American students and faculty have called Howard alma mater since the turn of the last century, including perhaps our most celebrated Indian American alumna, Vice President Kamala Harris.
This year, JSS Academy of Higher Education & Research and Howard University celebrated the tenth anniversary of our partnership. Our schools work cooperatively on curriculum development and conduct faculty exchanges. Pharmacy students and students from other disciplines from both schools conduct clinical rotations at our respective hospitals in Washington and in Mysore. And Howard’s relationship with the Department of State is just as rich.
I am proud to note Howard is a Historically Black College and University institutional leader, a major producer of Fulbright scholars and researchers. All of the Howard undergraduate students in the audience today are Larry Palmer envoys. The Palmer envoys program is named after Ambassador Larry Palmer, who served as Howard’s ambassador of residence from 2018 until his unfortunate passing last April.
Selected from HBCUs across the country, Palmer envoys are students interested in international affairs. The biweekly sessions demystify the State Department and make it more accessible to exceptional students who might not otherwise consider State Department exchanges, fellowships, and employment. Ambassador Palmer also oversaw all of the diplomatic fellowships administered by Howard University – the Pickering, Rangel, and Payne fellowship programs. His envoys are a tribute to his commitment and to the future of the diplomatic corps. I’ll ask for a second if the Palmer envoys will please stand and be recognized. (Applause.)
It is now my pleasure to invite to the podium the 75th United States Secretary of State, Secretary Antony Blinken. (Applause.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone, and it is absolutely wonderful to be in this incredible setting with so much history as well as such an extraordinary future here with our Palmer colleagues. I actually was going to ask if we could have class outside – (laughter) – but, and I should point out that I changed my pin. I’ve been pinned by Howard University and I’m honored by that. Thank you. (Applause.)
So Mr. Provost, thank you so much for the introduction and for your leadership here at Howard. And to my good friend, to my colleague, the Foreign Minister of India Jaishankar, thank you for being with us today for now the second day in a row. We spent all day yesterday together, starting at breakfast, ending at dinner. We had an incredibly productive session of what we call our 2+2, the foreign ministers and defense ministers of both of our countries working together on a common agenda and punctuated, I would say, by a really important virtual meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Biden.
So we’re grateful and I am also so pleased to have our friend and colleague, the Indian ambassador here, Ambassador Sandhu, Assistant Secretary Satterfield, Assistant Secretary Lu, and many colleagues from the department. Thank you, each and every one of you, for being here today and also for helping bring us together today.
It is incredibly fitting that we’re meeting at Howard University to talk about how to deepen the educational ties between India and the United States. As I have come to learn, and as we heard a little bit about, throughout its history this institution has played an important role in building bonds between our countries. And really, it’s hard to overstate the importance of those bonds not just as we look back but, I believe, as we go forward.
Let me tell you about one key figure from what has been already a very storied past. Howard Thurman, former dean of Rankin Chapel here at Howard, I’m sure familiar to many of you. Going back to September of 1935, Thurman led a four-member delegation on what was a monthslong pilgrimage to India. He was trying to find lessons from the country’s independence movement that might be relevant to the racial justice movement in the United States.
Near the end of the trip, Thurman met with Mahatma Gandhi. They talked, the books record, for about three hours, covering a wide range of issues: segregation, faith, nonviolent resistance. The conversation and the trip made a lasting impression on Thurman. So when he came back to Howard, he developed his interpretation of nonviolence – not as a political tactic, but as a spiritual lifestyle. He shared his views with sermons, speeches, and eventually what came to be an incredibly influential book, Jesus and the Disinherited.
So Gandhi’s views and Thurman’s interpretation of those views – of nonviolence – they, of course, would influence one of the greatest figures in our nation’s journey, Martin Luther King, Jr. As he traveled the country laying bare the sins of segregation, Dr. King carried two books with him. One was the Bible, the other Jesus and the Disinherited.
These connections and so many others across our shared history make clear that our people do share a special bond, and that as the world’s oldest and largest democracies, our countries always have something to learn from each other.
That’s why we see our cultural and educational ties continue to grow every single year. We’re incredibly fortunate in the United States to have 200,000 Indians studying at our universities, enriching our campuses, enriching our fellow citizens. And we see many American students studying and working in India through programs like Fulbright, the Gilman fellowships, including some who are here today.
To make it easier for people to continue learning from each other, Jai and I announced yesterday a working group, a Working Group on Education and Skill Training, which will bring academic institutions in the United States and India together to develop new joint research programs. The group will also focus on creating more opportunities for universities to partner on exchange programs that Assistant Secretary Satterfield runs so that ultimately more of our people can learn alongside each other.
Now, I know I don’t need to tell this group about the importance of building stronger bonds between our higher education systems. Many of you have benefited from studying in each other’s countries. And you’re using that knowledge now to teach in the other’s country. That’s a very powerful thing. You’re developing recommendations on how India and the United States can support each other’s clean energy transitions. You’re promoting trade between our countries and more equitable opportunities that flow from that trade. And that’s just to name a few examples of the things that people are working on.
So in foreign policy, one of the things we talk a lot about is the importance, the strength, the imperative of people-to-people ties. We do a lot of work as diplomats between our countries, but ultimately what really matters are those bonds between our people – between students, between businessmen and women, between academics, between tourists and others. This is what really brings us together.
And when we’re talking about that, in effect we’re talking about you: those who do the daily work of sharing their perspectives, sharing their knowledge with each other, and in so doing, building what are really lifelong personal and professional relationships with each other. That’s what makes all the difference because these kinds of connections, the people-to-people connections, many of them fostered by the exchange programs that we run, they actually build lifelong connections and a lifelong appreciation for each other’s countries, cultures, histories, and futures. And as a result, we are better able to take on shared challenges together.
I believe firmly that we will need your continued collaboration, your hard work, your leadership for the biggest challenges we face, whether it’s combating COVID, whether it’s building a more inclusive global economy, whether it’s tackling the climate crisis.
To put it another way, the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership, I am convinced, is absolutely crucial, essential, for addressing the problems of the 21st century, and your work is at the heart of that relationship.
So I’m really anxious to hear about some of the experiences that you’ve had, your ideas for how we can better develop, better deepen the educational and cultural ties between India and the United States.
Before we do that, though, it’s a great pleasure to turn it over to my friend, Foreign Minister Jaishankar. (Applause.)
MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Ambassador Sandhu, Assistant Secretary Satterfield, Assistant Secretary Lu, my colleague, additional Secretary Vani Rao, Honorable Provost, faculty, students: Let me say what a great pleasure it is to join you all today at this education event at Howard University. And I really thank the Department of State and the Indian Embassy for this initiative and, of course, the university for hosting us.
Many of you would be wondering why two foreign ministers who clearly had a fairly busy day yesterday chose to meet again at an education event at a university. And the answer is that our business as foreign ministers, as diplomats, is about connecting countries, connecting societies, and we do that through connecting people.
And when it comes to people, the most natural place to focus is on young minds with a curiosity about the world, of people whose lives are still very much ahead of them. If our presence today enhances your interest in India-U.S. relations, then I can say, and I’m sure, Tony, you would agree with this, that it’s a good day’s work for us.
But there is also a particular reason why I think the Howard University is a appropriate venue for this exercise. When we speak about the India-U.S. connect, the most powerful symbol of that is the inspirational bond between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that Secretary Blinken also spoke about. And as he told us, that bond was forged through the relationship which was build by Howard Thurman, the dean of the chapel, and later by Dr. William Stuart Nelson, who was the dean of the School of Religion. It is also fitting that this university hosted in September last year the Gandhi-King Lecture, which was delivered by Ambassador Sandhu here, and is currently celebrating the India Hawadiya.
But Howard University is not just a part of our shared past. It is very much part of the future that awaits us. As we contemplate that future, a big part of that, a big role in that, is going to be played by the relationship between our two countries, and that relationship has undergone a real transformation in the last two decades. Whether it is our strategic and security cooperation or our economic or technology partnerships, it is making its weight increasingly felt in world affairs.
A key driver of this change has been its human element. The 4.4 million Indian diaspora has literally defined our image in this society and helped forge relationships that are an enormous source of strength for us in our work. At its center are students, academics, researchers, and professionals who have contributed to America’s progress even as they remain the bridge between our two societies.
For our ties to grow it is equally necessary that there is a better understanding of India and the world on the part of young Americans. Your appreciation of a civilizational state and a democratic – and a fellow democratic polity that is daily overcoming enormous odds is essential. After all, we are natural partners only when our people have a strong sense of connect.
And that is why Secretary Blinken and I were especially pleased yesterday to launch the Working Group on Education and Skill Development that he spoke about. It will enable us to explore a range of opportunities that exist in the field of education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
We are also committed to taking forward the proposal for the Gandhi-King Development Foundation to implement social development projects in India. And in doing so, we would help realize the vision of Congressman John Lewis, who initiated congressional legislation in that regard.
Policymakers in both countries are sharply aware of the immense difference that our educational collaboration can make. On the Indian side, our 2020 National Education Policy contemplates, indeed prioritizes, international cooperation in education.
At the American end, we recognize the renewed focus on the STEM sector, including in activities that a group which we are both part of called the Quad. The Quad is – among its many activities is focused on STEM fellowships. I know that my colleague, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, is looking forward to engaging more intensively on developing this important facet of our relationship.
So let me conclude by once again underlining how important it is to develop and nurture these people-to-people linkages. I’m confident that Howard University and other educational institutions will be enthusiastic partners in this endeavor. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: And thank you, Mr. Secretary, Minister Jaishankar. I’m Lee Satterfield, the assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Our bureau’s mission is to increase mutual understanding between people in the United States and people of other countries. Today, we have a host of students, faculty, and staff with us who have an outsized interest in international affairs. In fact, some of our academic exchange scholars are here today, past participants of the Fulbright program, the Benjamin Gilman program, and the Critical Language Scholarship program. I’m so pleased to be able to moderate today’s discussion, so let’s get started.
I want to first call on Angel Bryant. Angel is sophomore International Affairs major who is a 2019-2020 Global Citizen Year India Fellow and a 2021-22 Palmer Envoy. Angel has a question for both of you. Angel.
QUESTION: My question is: What made you all interested in international relations?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I’m anxious to hear the answer, too. (Laughter.)
MINISTER JAISHANKAR: I really have to think for a moment because it’s been so long a part of my life. Why did I start getting interested in the world? I think part of it was probably an interest in music that – you heard music beyond your own, and then you wondered: what kind of music, where is it from, what kind of people? I think the food part of it came much later. (Laughter.) It was easier to afford music than food when you were younger. (Laughter.)
Some of it really – I also came from a family environment, which was a little bit international. In fact, I mean, we talk of educational professional exchanges. My father came here when I was about 10 years old on a fellowship – in fact, on a Rockefeller Fellowship – to study and to do some sort of professional training here. So I think, again, there’s a little bit of parental influence.
And I guess, in a way this – I’m talking now of the 1960s, ‘70s. It may sound like prehistory to you. (Laughter.) But it was really a time when the world was beginning to globalize much more. I mean, there were more tourists, people – the idea of traveling abroad, of seeing other cultures come – I mean, every time actually you would have something foreign happen in your school or university, there’d be tremendous excitement about it.
I guess it was a combination of all those things. And I still – the first music album that – foreign music album that I ever heard, which actually was a American album, a 1959 album called The Hitmakers. I actually now have it in Spotify. (Laughter.) And I still listen to it for reasons of nostalgia.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, thank you for sharing that, and thanks for the question. It’s interesting because you hear these stories about what drove people to do a certain thing, to pursue a certain career, and I think for a lot of us there is often – not always, but often – a connection of what you hear around the breakfast table at home.
And in my case, I had parents and grandparents who in one way or another were relatively recent immigrants to the United States and had stories of one kind or another that I think really put in a sort of spotlight for me what our country at its best – which is not always the case – can represent to the world. And I heard that from a very young age. I had my grandfather who fled pogroms in, interestingly enough, what is now Ukraine back at the turn of the last century; later, a stepmother who fled communists from Hungary; a stepfather who survived the concentration camps and was liberated by the United States. And these stories and others were a big part of it.
But then I had an experience at a young age that also ties into what we’re talking about, and that is the experience of actually living abroad as an American. When I was nine years old, we moved to France, and I moved there with my mom and my stepdad. And I spent nine years in France from age nine to 18, all the way through high school. And that experience – actually living abroad, seeing your own country through the eyes of others, expanding your own horizons to a different country, culture – and being, of course, in France, that opened up all of Europe with a Eurail pass and a few other things back in the day – that had a profound impact.
And one of the things that happens when you’re an American abroad – and this was roughly the same period as Jai was talking about – for me, this was – we moved in 1971. There was a lot going on in the world in the ’70s, as there is today. And whether it was the Vietnam War which was still happening, whether it was the Cold War which remained – what seemed to be its height, whether it was conflict in the Middle East, all of these things were part of the conversations that we were having in school. And because America, one way or another, was often in the middle of these things, you’d find yourself almost acting like a junior diplomat, somehow representing your country, defending it, getting into conversations, discussions, arguments.
And I think that as much as anything else really got me interested in foreign policy generally and in diplomacy. How do we find ways to have these conversations? How do we find ways to try to bring people together who are bringing so many different perspectives to bear on the questions of the day? And so that was really, I think, what drove me.
But I’ll say one last thing because I think it’s important especially to folks who are just starting out. I managed to try a whole bunch of different things before I wound up doing what I’m doing, and finding that I had virtually no talent for any of them – (laughter) – wound up where I am. But it’s important if you have the opportunity to try different things because you may not figure out what it is that you want to do right away. If you’re fortunate, you will figure it out. And for those of you who are pursuing the international fellowships and exchanges, you probably already have a pretty decent idea. That’s a great thing, it’s a powerful thing, but don’t panic if you don’t figure it out exactly right away. If you have the luxury of being able to try these things, experience these things, open yourselves to the world, that in and of itself is a great thing.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Wonderful perspectives, thank you. Thank you, Angel, for that question.
Now I’d like to call on Jasdeep Matharu, a first generation Indian American and proud Howard alumnae. He has a question for the minister.
QUESTION: My question is the COVID-19 pandemic saw an effective India-U.S. research cooperation in the health care sector. Do you expect this STEM research cooperation to strengthen in the coming days, and if so, which are the priority areas for you?
MINISTER JAISHANKAR: The COVID experience, which has been enormously stressful and in many ways scarring for all of us, if there was a silver lining to it, it actually also showed what friendships and relationships across the world could do. So again, when we speak about you discovered the world, you made friends, you went abroad, a lot of that is personal when you begin out. They can make a huge difference for your country or, frankly, for the world when you start doing it as a policy or as a – as part of your work.
Now, the case of the COVID, we actually have three vaccines in India which we are producing which are a direct outcome of our relationship with the United States – the Novovax, the Corbevax, and the Janssen. The – but it wasn’t, again, just the vaccines. In fact, during that period, I must share with you a episode when we – everybody was – everybody who could make vaccines was busy making vaccines, so it then became difficult to get the supply chain going because it would tend to get disproportionately kind of sucked in by – in some places.
And I remember at that time reaching out to Tony Blinken and coming here and sharing with him what were all the things we needed in India so that the supply chains which are coming out of the United States would function smoothly and allow for the vaccines to be made. And really, I counted as one of the great achievements in that year that we could actually scale up vaccine production in that way, and it wouldn’t have happened if we had not known. And I will say, I mean, at the risk of embarrassing him, that he really went out of his way to move the American system and get things done.
Now, last year – some of you would remember last summer – in India we went through a very severe, severe wave of COVID due to the Delta wave. And the Delta wave attacked the respiratory system in a much more aggressive fashion, so we had enormous demand for oxygen, for respirators, for certain drugs which were particularly effective for Delta treatment. And there again, I mean, a lot of countries came forward, but I would say the country which really stood out there was the United States.
So the point I am making is, I mean, you can look at it from many angles. Okay. When I look at students coming here, right, I’ve heard, for example, to the focus on STEM. Now, when students come here, they become part of a research community. A lot of it gets into breakthroughs and innovations in various fields. It ends up as inventions, as contributions which affect daily life, especially in a crisis situation like this. So you can see what’s an ordinary person’s normal activity which suddenly translates cumulatively into something very big for countries. And how to actually make that unfold, a lot of that depends on the comfort levels we have, the relationships we’ve built.
And today, I think a part of the very strong trust and bonding between our two countries is this human element that I spoke to in my remarks, the fact that four and a half million Indian diaspora lives here, that people travel back and forth, that there – and often there are students and professionals who have spent time here and gone back to India. And again, on our side, I mean, we would like, for example, to see many more American students come and study in India, many more American businesses come there, more tourists come there. Because all of this in some way adds to the real sort of, I would say, chemistry and – between our countries.
So the COVID’s really been, to me, very instructive – what relationships can mean, how they can really deliver at a time of need.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Thank you so much, and thank you for that question. I’d now like to call on Savon Jackson. He is the program manager for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program here at Howard. He has a question for the Secretary.
QUESTION: Thank you. So my question is: So while programs like the Fulbright and Gilman scholarships have been great entry points for individuals like myself to learn about India, how else can the U.S. and India partner to encourage more American students to pursue studies within India?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. And first of all, congratulations on what you’re doing and what you’ve achieved. It’s a great thing. And I should really probably turn that over to Assistant Secretary Satterfield, because this is exactly the focus of her activities.
But we are looking across all different pursuits how we can find ways to connect our countries, including through exchange programs, through fellowship programs, through academic programs, to make that easier and to try to open minds to the prospect of the possibility of doing that. I think you heard very eloquently from Foreign Minister Jaishankar why that matters and why that makes such a difference.
I would just say from my own experience – and I said this before, and this is one of the things that we’re going to spend some time talking about over the next few years – if we can find more ways to give people the opportunity to experience the rest of the world, and especially one of the most vibrant, vital partners and, of course, democracies in the world like India, that’s ultimately going to redound to, I think, the personal benefit of the people who have that experience, but honestly, it’s going to redound to the benefit of our country as a whole. And I want to make sure that we’re doing a good job both in getting that message out but also in finding ways to support it.
So the assistant secretary runs an extraordinary part of the State Department that’s responsible for building exactly these kinds of programs. And so one of the things we’re doing, especially as we emerge from COVID, is finding ways to further revitalize, re-energize, and carry forward all these programs.
Now, one of the things that’s really helpful is actually when we get good ideas, because we don’t have a monopoly on ideas, never mind good ideas. So there may be things that are missing that people identify as, well, here is an area where we really could pursue an interesting exchange, and then we need to know that. We need to get your input. We need to get your ideas, your thoughts. And some of that is going to just come from your own experience, from what you’re hearing from your friends and fellow students, and we want to find ways to bring that to the department to try to explore that.
So we’ve got, Lee, I don’t know how many different ongoing things that we’re doing, but a lot, but we’re trying to build on them.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Hundreds.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Hundreds literally. (Laughter.)
So here’s one of the interesting things too, and I’ve said this a lot and it goes both ways. One of the extraordinary things about the exchange programs that we have when we bring, for example, young Indians to the United States, but also from countries around the world, is we’ve been pretty good over the years in identifying the rising generation of people. And when we’ve gone back and looked at the numbers – and these numbers are a little out of date, but for people participating in our exchange programs over the years coming from other countries, usually at a young age, they went – they would then eventually go back home, and of those over the many years we’ve had more than 50 who went on to win Nobel Prizes; more than 350 who went on to become the leaders, the presidents, the prime ministers of their countries; thousands who went on to lead companies, academic institutions, become prominent in culture and the arts. And I think the same thing is also true, I suspect, of the many people that we – many Americans that we send to engage in these programs.
And then what happens is, is it builds connections between our people and our countries that outlast any particular government or administration and that build a lasting foundation for our countries to come together.
The last thing I’ll say is this, and here’s the way we look at it, and again, it’s why I think this foundation is so important. When we’re thinking about the problems that we have to try to tackle that are actually affecting the lives of virtually every American in one way or another, the first realization you come to is that we simply can’t effectively deal with these problems alone, that we need to be working in collaboration, in cooperation, in coordination with other countries.
Climate: We are 15 percent of global emissions. We also have a long historic legacy of having built up emissions, but we’re 15 percent. Even if we do everything right at home, that still leaves 85 percent of emissions from other parts of the world. So we have a strong interest in trying to find ways to work cooperatively as well as to help countries that need the support to adapt, to build resilience, as they’re making their own transitions.
And COVID, where this part – the work that we’ve done together, it hasn’t simply been to the benefit of both of our countries. It has increasingly been to the benefit of countries throughout the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. The Quad partnership that we put together: 500 million vaccines being donated, distributed, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. But on COVID, if we’re not working together with other countries – again, even if we did everything right at home, if there is another – if the virus keeps percolating out there somewhere and new variants develop, one of those variants may come back and bite us. So we have a strong interest in it, but we can’t do it without this collaboration. This is a powerful thing that we did. We had the United States, India, Japan, Australia come together and say we’re going to take pieces of this together, we’re going to manufacture, we’re going to help finance, we’re going to help distribute, and we’re going to get vaccines to people.
And then finally, on all of the emerging technologies, which is something that the United States and India have to work on together, we have to do everything we can to try to shape the rules and the norms and the standards by which these technologies are used because, maybe more than anything else, these phones in our pockets shape our lives – in good ways and sometimes in bad ways.
I say all of that because, again, it starts – our ability to do that starts with you. It starts with these exchange programs. It starts with building these connections, building these relationships, building these friendships, building this appreciation for different countries and cultures. If we get that right, then I’m convinced that no matter what you do in your career or your lives, in some way it’s going to be beneficial not just to you but to the relationship between our countries, relationships that are more necessary than ever if we’re really going to meet the problems that all of our countries face, and maybe find some real opportunity in them too.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And you’ll be glad to know, to your point about where good ideas are generated, already some students and members of the faculty here at Howard have already approached me with ideas about more exchanges that we can do and ideas that they have that they’ve already shared with me. So thank you for that.
And the Secretary has also made it a priority for my bureau to make it possible for more Americans to participate in study abroad and programs like that you’ve had the experience to do. So to that point, it’s through strategic partnerships with Howard University and others all across the country, and he’s asked us to look at creating more of those around the United States.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: And Lee, can I just say – because I really – this is so important to those of you who have done this, who participate in it. President Biden likes to say – I’ve often heard him say this – don’t just keep the faith, spread the faith. (Laughter.) So if you’ve done it, if you know it, if it’s been a good experience for you, share that —
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Exactly.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: — with your friends. Share that with your fellow students. Open their eyes, open their minds, to that possibility. And that, more than anything else, is also what’s going to encourage people to take that chance, take that opportunity.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Absolutely.
MINISTER JAISHANKAR: By the way, I must tell you. You know Prime Minister Modi was one of those who came on an exchange —
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: That’s right, that’s right.
MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Yes, on an exchange program.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: IVLP.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: So we were pretty good. (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Thank you. So next I’d like to ask Lyndsie Whitehead. She’s a Presidential Award of Service recipient and a globally-minded educator. She has the next question for the minister.
QUESTION: Thank you both so much for such a robust conversation today. My question is as follows: India has announced the new National Education Policy 2020. How do you intend to attract U.S. students to the study in – to study in India and also to participate in the Study in India program?
MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Well, the Study in India program has been there for some time. The education policy came into being in 2020. Of course, after that we had the COVID. So it’s interesting it’s now that we are really focusing on how do we attract more international students and obviously among them more American students.
It’s still, quite honestly, work in progress, but the – what has changed is a much stronger appreciation of the need to have international students. I think the view – we have long had a tradition, but we haven’t scaled it up the way many countries have. We realize you can’t necessarily leave it to students themselves. There have got to be programs. There have got to be mechanisms, efforts which would actually – there’s got to be a strong pull factor.
So part of what we are hoping to do with the working group that we announced yesterday is to address exactly this problem that we would definitely like to see many more international students. We believe it’s good for our universities. We believe it’s good for our students. And as all of us have clearly recognized today, these exchange programs have a benefit which is way beyond actually the takeaways of the person concerned. The consequence is huge.
So in different ways we would try to encourage. It could be short-term exchanges. It could be having students do their degree in India, create fellowships which would facilitate that. So I think there’s a whole sort of menu there in the making, and I hope a lot of what we have done in recent years has been to grow our relationship. And to me the education part of it, particularly the idea of more Americans studying in India, that’s one area where we have not done as well as we would have liked to. I think it’s something – it’s time to address that more effectively, and I’m very sure that we will do so.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SATTERFIELD: Thank you. And Mr. Minister, I will work on that. (Laughter.) Thank you. And unfortunately, we’re out of time. This conversation could go on forever. It’s been so terrific. I want to thank you for your thoughtful questions and thank the Secretary and the minister for their insights and discussion. It’s been a robust discussion. On behalf of our distinguished guests, I want to thank you all for being here. Have a good day.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you all. (Applause.)