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Address by External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar at the Event at Howard University for India- U.S. Education Collaboration

April 13, 2022

Secretary of State 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-US relations, then I can say, and I am sure, Tony you would agree with this that it is a good day’s work for us.

There is also a particular reason why I think the Howard University is an appropriate venue for this exercise. When we speak about the India-US 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 built by Howard Thurman, the Dean of the Chapel, and later by Dr. William Stewart Nelson, 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-Howard year. 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 remained a 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 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.

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 fields 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.

Policy makers 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, amongst 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 am confident that Howard University and other educational institutions will be enthusiastic partners in this endeavor.

Thank You very much.

Washington DC
April 12, 2022

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