Remarks by Gloria Berbena Minister Counselor for Public Diplomacy Commencement of Fulbright-Nehru Conference

New Delhi

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Date: November 14, 2022

Good morning.  It is my great pleasure to be here today to celebrate you and your accomplishments as part of the Fulbright-Nehru scholarship program.  Additional Secretary Rao, your presence, and the Indian government’s support of the Fulbright-Nehru program demonstrate the commitment India has made to academic exchange and the tangible ways such exchanges can bring our two countries even closer together.  Thank you for your continuing support and presence here today.   

I want to extend my heartiest congratulations to all the Fulbright scholars and students present here.  I hope the hard work in your respective research areas proves to be the steppingstone for your future contributions and successes. 

And a big thanks to Adam Grotsky and the entire team from the United States-India Educational Foundation.  We know how much work goes into every aspect of this program, and we appreciate you maintaining the highest standard of excellence for the Fulbright-Nehru program, its transparent administration centered on academic freedom and scholarly excellence, and also for all the work involved in bringing us together this week.

This conference takes place on an auspicious day.  Today is the beginning of International Education Week, which celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. 

We are also marking the conclusion of our yearlong celebration of 75 years of U.S.-India relations.  Since the founding of the Indian republic, we have seen the evolution of a global partnership that benefits not only the citizens of our two countries, but also the larger international community.  The year began with a bang, with a congratulatory video featuring Indian American celebrities who illustrated how much cultural richness our countries share.  We conducted a Youth Summit for the Democracy Year of Action, engaging students in democracy simulations, displaying work celebrating voting and free expression in an art installation, and engaging with Indian publics to celebrate our shared democratic values.  We celebrated U.S.-India business ties, highlighted vaccine and public health cooperation, launched a “Trees Outside of Forests” initiative that will process the equivalent of approximately 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2030 by planting trees across the country, and we brought a replica of the Mars rover to India to make the extraordinary achievement of space exploration and cooperation real for Indian youth, who are part of a new and vibrant generation of inventors and visionaries.  

Our two countries closely partner in so many areas—combatting the climate crisis, strengthening health systems, promoting democratic principles and shared economic prosperity, and many other areas that have a clear global impact.  At the root of our cooperation and our ability to provide solutions to global challenges, is educational exchange.  The connections our students and scholars have forged, and the collaborations our academic institutions have established over the last 75 years are a cornerstone of the U.S.-India relationship.  Educational exchange has shaped our institutions, our corporations and industries, and our communities. 

Fulbright-Nehru exchanges have fueled this phenomenon.  Since Prime Minister Nehru and U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson signed the agreement establishing a Fulbright Commission in 1950, USIEF has administered roughly 20,000 Fulbright and related grants for Indians to study and teach in the United States, and for Americans to do the same in India.  And since 2008, India has been a full partner in the programmatic funding of the exchange program, which we now know as the Fulbright-Nehru program.  This is a tremendous, shared investment in academic exchanges and people-to-people ties.  And as we look forward to India leading the G-20 next year, and engaging through the Quad and other key channels, our governments will continue to engage at the highest levels to expand such investments.

As you all know so well, the real magic happens in the last three feet, with one person, just like you, talking to another person, helping build bridges of understanding one conversation and one teaching and one learning moment at a time.  As you participate in this last three feet of engagement, every day you serve as ambassadors for the United States.  I look forward to hearing more this week not just about your areas of scholarship, but about  the personal connections you have made.

For those of you interacting with Indian students who are considering study in the United States, please help connect them to EducationUSA, the free, high-quality advising service that provides comprehensive, accurate information about the U.S. university application and visa process.  Students can connect virtually or at eight advising centers across India, including five that USIEF runs directly. 

For those based at universities and evaluating or fielding requests for longer-term partnerships, we are happy to help provide information about steps you may take towards joint research or joint degrees.  We know the Government of India is taking steps to expand educational choice for students in India through new policies and frameworks that offer more online learning options, streamline sharing or transferring credits, and through active pursuit of internationalization. 

Finally, some of you may be approached by members of the U.S. Embassy press and media team over the course of this event or afterwards.  We want to share information about Fulbright-Nehru and your successes with the Indian public via social media.  For those of you here in the Delhi area, we have an American Center in Connaught Place with an auditorium and meeting spaces to connect with the Indian public.  We have hosted a few of you in our space for performances or presentations, and we invite you both to visit our space to attend events and to get on our stage and share your talents and ideas with Indian  audiences which we are happy to help convene.  There are also American Spaces in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai.  As you encounter individuals interested in learning more about U.S. opportunities, please send them our way!

As we culminate our celebration of the past 75 years of U.S.-India relations, we look forward to what we can accomplish together, with your help and contributions, over the next 75 years and beyond!

Thank you.