Monday, Nov 28, 2022
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Howard University Strengthened Bonds Between India And US: Antony Blinken

US Secretary Of State Antony Blinken along with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar appeared at the sprawling campus of the university on Tuesday to talk about how to deepen the educational ties between India and the United States.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EAM S Jaishankar.(File photo)

The Howard University, a prestigious black research varsity in the American capital, has played an important role in building bonds between India and the US, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

A day after the India-US 2+2 ministerial, Blinken along with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar appeared at the sprawling campus of the university on Tuesday to talk about how to deepen the educational ties between India and the United States.

Notably, Vice President Kamala Harris studied here.

“As I've come to learn and as we heard a little bit about, throughout its history, this institution has played an important role in building bonds between our countries,” Blinken said in his interaction with the students of this university.

Bringing to the fore, some of the little-known facts were told to the students that way back in 1935, the then dean Howard Thurman led a four-member delegation on what was a month-long pilgrimage to India.

“He was trying to find lessons from the country's independence movement that might be relevant to the racial justice movement in the United States. Near the end of the trip, Thurman met with Mahatma Gandhi. They talked, the books record, for about three hours, covering a wide range of issues; segregation, faith, nonviolent resistance,” he said.

The conversation and the trip made a lasting impression on Thurman, said the top American diplomat. 

“So, when he came back to Howard, he developed his interpretation of nonviolence not as a political tactic, but as a spiritual lifestyle. He shared his views with sermons, speeches, and eventually what came to be an incredibly influential book, Jesus and the Disinherited,” he said.

“So, Gandhi's views and Thurman's interpretation of those views of nonviolence, of course, would influence one of the greatest figures in our nation's journey, Martin Luther King Jr. As he travelled the country laying bare the sins of segregation, Dr. King carried two books with him. One was the Bible, the other Jesus and the Disinherited,” he said.

“These connections and so many others across our shared history make clear that our people do share a special bond and that, as the world's oldest and largest democracies, our countries always have something to learn from each other,” Blinken said.

“That's why we see our cultural and educational ties continue to grow every single year,” he said. “We are incredibly fortunate in the United States to have 200,000 Indians studying at our universities, enriching our campuses, enriching our fellow citizens,” he added.

After the 2+2, the two countries announced a working group on education and skill training, which will bring academic institutions in the United States and India together to develop new joint research programs, he said.

“The group will also focus on creating more opportunities for universities to partner on exchange programs that Assistant Secretary Satterfield runs so that ultimately more of our people can learn alongside each other,” he said.

Welcoming Jaishankar and Blinken at the historic Founders Library, Dr. Anthony Wutoh, provost and chief academic officer of Howard University said that the library is the home of the university's museum and Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, one of the world's largest repositories dedicated to the history and culture of people of African descent.

“It is also home to the bust of Mahatma Gandhi the government of India gave to Dr. Martin Luther King when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The King family donated it to Howard University upon his death,” he said.

“It is fitting that Howard is the setting in which to celebrate the educational and cultural exchanges that undergird the strong bilateral relationship between India and the United States of America,” he said.

“Indian and Indian American students and faculty have called Howard alma mater since the turn of the last century, including perhaps our most celebrated Indian-American alumna, Vice President Kamala Harris,” Wutoh said adding that this year, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research and Howard University celebrated the 10th anniversary of their partnership.(With PTI inputs)
 

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