Good afternoon, and thank you for your extremely warm welcome. I am so pleased to be here today at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences – also known as KISS. I am very impressed by the talent and enthusiasm of the student community.
I would like to congratulate Dr. Samanta and his team for the development of this institution, which is now one of Odisha’s most important schools. Quality education for 27,000 students is an impressive and significant achievement, especially when it has such a positive impact on the State of Odisha’s many and diverse tribal communities. This is a benefit not just for you and your school, but for all of India.
India as a Young Country with Great Potential
Today’s youth are a powerful force in our ever-changing world. You are among the largest population of young people in history. There are currently over 2.3 billion people between the ages of 15 and 34 in the world. Approximately one million young people turn 18 each month. In India alone, around 65 percent of the population is under the age of 35. It is fair to say that the future of the partnership between the United States and India – and, indeed, of much of global affairs – is in your hands.
English Access Program
The United States Embassy and our Consulates in India seek to empower the youth of this country, and to provide you with opportunities to learn, to innovate, and to connect with American youth, with our universities and other institutions, and with our business community. Through connections such as these, we hope that you can contribute to, and expand, the partnership between our two countries.
Across the three States that our U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad offers services – Odisha, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh – nearly 7,000 Indians – mostly youth – have participated in exchange programs in the United States. These young people have brought their personal experiences from the United States back to your cities and communities in India. Through this process, we have established new ties between our people, which we hope will continue to grow and spread.
Cooperation with the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences
Through the English Access Program, the U.S. government has maintained a longstanding partnership with your impressive school, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences. Next year marks the tenth anniversary of this partnership and, by next summer, 850 students will be alumni of the Access Program.
The English-language skills gained by hundreds of KISS students through the Access Program have helped them make important contributions to India and to your community. One former KISS Access student is now a practicing doctor; another represented Indian youth at the United Nations; and others have competed for India in international sporting events. We are proud to stand as partners in your journey toward a bright future, as you use your English skills to succeed in life.
The Value of Learning a Language
We support the Access Program at KISS because we believe that the English-language skills you learn will serve you well throughout your life. Learning a new language is a major commitment, but one that should pay off over time in the opportunities that it provides and the new doors that it opens.
English is particularly important because of its role as a common language among governments, companies, and people from diverse places across the world. From business to academic research, and from medicine to computer science, English is very often the language driving international collaboration and innovation.
We are confident that English skills will open new doors for you. And we hope that some of you will even consider studying in the United States. More than one million foreign students – or ten lakh – are studying in U.S. universities, with nearly 200,000 of them – or two lakh – from India. The ability to speak English is a key skill for each of these students, as they connect with each other and with Americans in the classroom and beyond – playing sports, making new friends, and nurturing their careers.
As we look to the future, our hope is that one day U.S. diplomats will sit across the table from some of you, working to solve global problems. Or U.S. entrepreneurs will team with you to develop innovative solutions that can advance the welfare and prosperity of the people of both of our great countries. You can be sure that Americans will continue to work closely with Indians – whether it be government officials, business people, scientists, artists, or others – to turn big ideas into reality.
In my first year as the U.S. Ambassador to India, I have seen how the opportunities for cooperation between our two countries are expanding. Last year, India and the United States co-sponsored the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, which brought to India young entrepreneurs from across the globe to share ideas and seek partnerships for future collaboration in industries such as energy, healthcare, information technology, and entertainment. We welcome all of you in joining this growing partnership between India and the United States.
In conclusion, I thank your teachers for their tremendous efforts in helping you develop the skills you will need to succeed in building your careers. I thank you for your diligence and hard work. And I wish all of you the very best.