U.S.-India Higher Education Summit chaired by Hillary Clinton at Georgetown University

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and India’s Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibbal co-chaired the US – India Higher Education Summit commenced at Georgetown University. Photo: U.S. Dept. of State

“A democracy depends upon educated citizenry,” said Hillary Clinton, who gave an opening address at the summit, held at Georgetown University.

WASHINGTON, October 14, 2011— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and India’s Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibbal co-chaired the US – India Higher Education Summit commenced today at the Georgetown University. The summit brings together over 300 participants from academia, industry, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to discuss the role of education in democracy and the future of both the U.S. and Inda.

Persons present for the Friday, October 13th roundtable discussion included Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sibal, Richard Levin, president of Yale University and Sam Pitroda, advisor to the prime minister.

In her inaugural address Clinton emphasized that education is an important pillar of the strategic dialogue between the two largest democracies of the world.  Both the leaders underscored the importance of deepening institutional collaboration in higher education in the form of more student and faculty exchanges and research collaborations.

Mr. Sibbal applauded the US for the quality of its educational institutions and stated his government’s goal to increase the current Gross Enrollment Ratio from 15 % to 30% by 2020.

“To do that, we will need to build an additional 1,000 universities and 50,000 colleges. To serve these institutions, we will require quality faculty of over a million assisted by quality support structures,” he said.

Clinton narrated an interesting analogy to highlight the importance of collaborations and more interaction between students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

“A few years ago, a small group of American and Indian classmates at Stanford University decided to work together to build a better baby incubator.,” Mrs. Clinton says.  “Four hundred and fifty premature and low-weight babies die every hour, and traditional baby incubators can cost as much as $20,000. So the students developed the Embrace baby warmer, a portable incubator for use in poor and rural areas that doesn’t require electricity and only costs around $100.”

“After graduating from Stanford, this Indian and American team moved to Bangalore to continue working on their idea and launched their project. And it’s now in use in hospitals in India and saving babies’ lives. Their goal is to save 100,000 babies by 2013”

“Now, this is a simple idea born out of conversations between students from both of our countries talking about shared hopes for a better world that led to action. And it took these American and Indian students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives working together to make it happen” Mrs. Clinton concluded.

There were other stimulating discussions between the university administrators from both the U.S. and India. As the summit brings together the leading “brains” from the two largest world democracies, it will be interesting to see how they leverage “Education” to build a better future for students in both the countries. 

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Sonal Jaitly

Sonal is a young professional, aspiring writer and an astute observer of life. Born and brought up in India, reciving a mix of both Indian and western education, Sonal earned a Masters in Business Administration, but gave up business to work for Education, her passion.

An explorer at heart, Sonal loves to travel and interact with people, meeting new people, reading about different customs and cultures is something that fascinates her. Juggling between pursuing her passions and her career, Sonal believes it is important to be a perpetual student of life, learn, unlearn and relearn while navigating through the hills and valleys of this beautiful journey called “life”.


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