New Delhi: In a packed hall of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Dr. M. A. Ansari Auditorium on Tuesday, November 1, 2016, US Ambassador to India Richard R. Verma greeted the audience largely students with Assalamu Alaikum, Namaskar and Good Evening while lauding the university for its great academic contribution and having celebrity students like actor Shah Rukh Khan.
Verma was delivering a talk on the “United States – India Relations”. The talk was held to have more and more interactions with American universities, informed Vice-Chancellor Prof. Talat Ahmad in his brief welcome address.
The Indian-origin US diplomat said he was proud of his Indian roots and particularly proud of Jamia’s long history of partnership with the United States.
"Your alumni have made countless contributions to academia, business, media and so many other things. Over the past twenty years more than 50 students and faculty associated with this school have availed of the different educational and professional exchange programmes sponsored by the US. This is 'a testimony of the role Jamia plays in cultivating young Indian leaders", he said.
"We want to make more opportunities for all of you. As your country is going to celebrate its national education day in honour of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and, as you all know Mr Azad was a leading figure in India’s independence struggle and in early phase of this university. I have always admired his belief in the power of education", he added.
Talking about the US-India relationships the seasoned diplomat said, “When the US and India come together we can make a difference in the lives of ordinary people. We can also address some transnational challenges like climate change, environmental degradation, cyber threats and terrorism."
Emphasizing the need for democracies to uphold rights and values, the ambassador particularly mentioned about an interaction of President Barack Obama with Muslims in a mosque in the US to put across the message that US democracy stood for universal values and human rights. In the mosque President Obama called young Muslims, “If you are wondering where you stay in, you stay in right here”. You are not Muslims or Americans. “You are Muslims and Americans”, I love this message", Verma said.
In answer to a question about growing Islamophobia and anti-immigrant feelings, Verma said that any form of discrimination was unjustifiable. Against this backdrop he also denounced “unacceptable rhetoric against Muslims”.
He called the US and India ‘melting pots’ where different communities coexisted celebrating great diversity, respecting minority rights, and protecting freedom of speech.
He said there was need for further collaboration for change to happen and the world to take note. Education collaboration is just one part of the growing US-India partnership.
"We have some forty government to government dialogues covering everything from health to energy, to defence, etc. The real promise and potential in our relationship or any relationship is not any one government programme. It is in fact in our “shared values”, he said.
"Whatever our shortcomings, the democratic values upon which United States was founded, embedded in our Constitution, must be in your state by which we measure ourselves", he said.
The envoy reminded the students of their duty to champion issues and called them pioneers of societies where their parents and teachers looked at them expecting to challenge old assumptions.
Verma lauded Jamia for its academic excellence, making special mention of some of its special programmes of studies like Mass Communication and Peace and Conflict Resolution, stating that 29 scholars of the university had got Fulbright Scholarships adding, “We are looking for more”.
He further said that many Indian students after receiving degrees from US universities were doing remarkably well in the US, India and in other countries.
Earlier, Prof. Tasneem Meenai, Dean, Students’ Welfare presented an overview of the ambassador.