Under Secretary Sonenshine and Indian Ambassador Rao discuss U.S.-India people-to-people exchanges

People-to-people relationships between the citizens of the U.S. and India, forged in part through educational and cultural exchanges, lie at the heart of the U.S.-India partnership, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine and Indian Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao agreed in a recent web chat moderated by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Ambassador Robert Blake.

Pointing out that more than 104,000 Indian students come to the U.S. to study each year, Under Secretary Sonenshine noted the importance of working with India “on all the new models of education,” including online models and community colleges, to build “an educational foundation for a knowledge-based economy.” Ambassador Rao agreed on the necessity of enhancing digital connectivity and online education in today’s globalized world that, in her words, is “really a world beyond borders.” Rao further underlined the power of youth exchanges and stressed that India “would like to see many more young Americans come to India to understand the pulsating nature of the change in our country,” something that she hopes will be fueled by the Department of State’s recently announced Passport to India initiative.

Sonenshine and Rao agreed on the importance of exchanges not only between students, but also between scientists, innovators, and business people to ensure “a traffic of ideas” and “intermingling of knowledge in an open, transparent, and democratic way” between the two countries and pointed out that the U.S. and India are also eager to expand internships and faculty programs.

A transcript of the complete webcast with Under Secretary Sonenshine and Ambassador Rao is available on the website of the Embassy of India.

A video of the webchat is available here.