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Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Indian ambassador visiting IU Bloomington on April 10 and 11

March 21, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Nirupama Rao, India's ambassador to the United States, will visit Indiana University Bloomington on April 10 and 11 and present a free, public lecture on India-U.S. relations.

Nirupama Rao

Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Nirupama Rao

Print-Quality Photo

Rao's lecture, "Indo-U.S. Relations: Where We Stand, Where Are We Headed?" will begin at 5 p.m. April 10 in Whittenberger Auditorium of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. She will be hosted by IU President Michael A. McRobbie at a private dinner that night.

"Ambassador Rao is a particularly distinguished and experienced diplomat, having served as India's foreign secretary and, since September, as India's ambassador to the United States," McRobbie said. "We appreciate the importance she has placed on visiting Indiana University.

"As I've previously noted, because of her extraordinary diplomatic experience and extensive knowledge of foreign affairs, she will play a vital role in strengthening the relationship between the United States and India, one of the fastest-growing and most vibrant economies in the world and an increasingly important market for companies here in Indiana," McRobbie said.

Rao assumed her ambassadorial duties in Washington in September after completing two years as India's foreign secretary, the highest ranking career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service.

She served as India's ambassador to China from 2006 to 2009 and as its high commissioner to neighboring Sri Lanka from 2004 to 2006, as well as in important diplomatic roles in Russia, Peru and Bolivia. She had prior diplomatic duties in Washington during the mid-'90s and has been a visiting distinguished scholar at Harvard University and the University of Maryland.

In his visit to India in 2010, President Barack Obama called the relationship between the United States and India "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century." Rao's extensive experience at the heart of Indian diplomacy at home and abroad ensures that channels for closer cooperation remain open.

As a student of English literature and a published poet, Rao respects the value of communication and education. She hopes to establish a cultural center in Washington that will make the ancient and modern traditions of India more accessible to Americans.

"Despite different cultures and histories, India and the United States for more than half a century have had a close political link as constitutional democracies," said IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret. "Ambassador Rao, with her deep experience in both worlds, has the important responsibility of helping the two countries to realize the mutual power in their similarities and to celebrate their differences. We have much to learn from each other, and the ambassador's visit will be a significant step toward that goal.

"Last fall, President McRobbie led an IU contingent that had extensive and enthusiastic discussions with potential future educational partners," Zaret added. "We look forward to drawing world-class scholars to IU and to providing IU students with the opportunity to conduct research at India's premier institutions."

More than 850 students from India are enrolled at IU's eight campuses, including more than 250 at IUPUI and more than 580 at IU Bloomington.

IU Bloomington is home to the Madhusudan and Kiran C. Dhar India Studies Program, which promotes original research and innovative teaching on all aspects of the Indian subcontinent. Its more than 30 full-time faculty members work in a range of disciplines and with diverse regional interests.

Rao's visit is being sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs and the Dhar India Studies Program.