Indian students can now expect more cultural exchange programmes with the United States.
Interracting with students at Delhi University, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she felt more interaction between the youth of the two countries was imperative.
“I feel it is extremely important to have young people engage in the politics of both the countries. To improve relations, young people should be involved in world affairs. One way to do this would be by having students go for exchange programmes,” she said.
“I spoke to Deepak Pental, who went on an exchange programme to the US and felt it was an enriching experience. Exchanges promote better cooperation, understanding between countries,” she said.
Exchanges, Clinton said, would lead to eradication of misconceptions. “There are stereotypes that exist between countries. For example, people who watch Bollywood may think everyone in India is always happy and lead dramatic lives... Others watching Hollywood might think that in the US, we do not wear clothes and are always fighting each other. We need cultural exchanges to cut through the clutter. We need citizen diplomats.”
She also spoke of women’s issues. “Engaging women is key to economic progress. Any country that does not give half its population rights cannot progress,” she said.
Ragini Nayak, former president of the National Students’ Union of India, asked Clinton if being a woman was one of the reasons she did not get elected president.
“I do not look back,” Clinton replied. “When I was president of the students’ council, I never thought I would be running for president. I am grateful for my many experiences.”
Clinton stressed the need to allow women to be more proactive in society. “Recently, I met women at the Self-Employed Women’s Association and saw how it has instilled confidence into them... I met the president of the 1.2 million-strong organization and told her, ‘You became president, I didn’t’.”