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State's Hughes says the future is in nurturing talent across borders
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes told a gathering of Indian business leaders in Mumbai, India, "talent is becoming one of the world's most sought after commodities," and the best way to nurture talent is to give more students access to higher education.
"We believe encouraging more young people to become truly global citizens serves our national interest, India's interests and your interests as business leaders," she said March 26, addressing members of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. "In this increasingly global world, you need employees who are highly educated, able to speak different languages, able to move easily between cultures and countries - and so we are here to ask for the business community's active partnership and support."
She said U.S.-India business partnerships are growing, "from technology to agriculture, from poverty alleviation to space exploration, from combating disease to reducing pollution." Strong business partnerships depend on finding qualified, talented people who are comfortable in a diverse world, according to Hughes.
"We need to nurture talent wherever we find it, and reach out to women, minorities and young people from low income, non-elite communities who need and deserve opportunities for education. As nations and employers, we simply can't afford to leave anyone out of the picture," Hughes said.
Hughes was in India with a delegation of American university presidents to tell Indian students and their parents that the doors are open to them in the United States. Hughes said the U.S. delegation seeks "a welcome infusion of Indian talent and creativity into U.S. campuses." Equally important, she said, is to "give American students important skills to work in the global environment." Such cooperation will "help meet the growing demand of American and Indian businesses for skilled, knowledgeable workers" and "help future generations forge stronger bonds between our countries," she said.
"We need to do a better job of helping Americans learn the languages, cultures and history of the world" and urge more study abroad, she said. In the past 10 years, the number of American students abroad has grown. President Bush has launched several initiatives to encourage study and teaching abroad, particularly in South Asia.
"Education is essential to fostering understanding and respect for those who have different backgrounds, faiths, ideas and views. Education is still the best escape route from poverty. Education is vital to constructive informed decision making among citizens and between countries," Hughes said. Exposure to each others' countries disabuses people of stereotypical perceptions, fostering true mutual understanding, she said.
India and the United States have a long history of educational exchange and collaboration. The Fulbright program, begun in 1950, brings Indian scholars to America and American scholars to India. A current American Fulbright fellow in India is Anisha Khaitan, from Tufts University in Massachusetts, whose focus is HIV/AIDS educational programming in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. "I hope to create an educational [HIV/AIDS] prevention program that can serve as a template for future public health programming initiatives," she said in her Fulbright proposal. Another is Karen Hollweg, an environmental science education consultant from Boulder, Colorado, researching environmental education for sustainability in the Indian states Gujarat and Uttaranchal to develop professional exchanges among leaders, environmental educators and organizations in India and the United States. Other fellows research such subjects as public health, agricultural practices, nanotechnology, the arts and medicine.
There is a growing number of collaborative programs between American and Indian institutions. Leading universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Purdue, the University of California, State University of New York, University of Washington and Yale are institutions developing innovative educational joint ventures in India.
Hughes said the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has streamlined procedures for obtaining student visas and "put students at the front of the line." In 2006, she said, student and exchange visas were at an all-time high, and that the "expedited process parallels that which we already conduct for eligible business executives." U.S. Ambassador to India David C. Mulford has made it a priority to reduce visa backlog and waiting time, she said.
To further promote U.S. higher education, the U.S. Department of Commerce, with private-sector partners, will bring an innovative "Electronic Education Fair" to India later in 2007 "to explain the breadth and depth of U.S. higher education opportunities."
Hughes concluded, "The U.S. has the capacity to host many more students than we currently do. Our goal is to make an American education possible for every international student who wishes to study in the U.S. and to substantially increase Americans studying here."
For additional information on studying in the United States, see the State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs EducationUSA Web site and the electronic journal, College and University Education in the United States.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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