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Last modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

India's ambassador to the U.S. to speak at Indiana University Feb. 2

Jan. 25, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Nirupama Rao, India's ambassador to the United States, will visit Indiana University Bloomington on Thursday, Feb. 2, 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. 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. "Because of her extraordinary diplomatic experience and her 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 businesses here in Indiana."

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.

"Ambassador Rao stands at the nexus of two of the world's most important democracies," said David Zaret, IU vice president for international affairs. "Better mutual understanding and closer working relations will be critical to the future of both countries. Rao brings the wisdom and insight of long diplomatic experience to ensure that the remarkable progress that the two countries have made will continue."

Zaret was part of a delegation headed by IU President McRobbie that visited universities and industrial sites in India in the fall.

"We found a cordial welcome everywhere we went, and we had enthusiastic discussions of possible future cooperation that will provide opportunities for IU students and faculty to study and conduct research in some of India's finest university facilities as well as the chance to draw world-class scholars to visit Indiana," he said. "Still, we have much to learn about each other, and Ambassador Rao's visit provides another opportunity to increase our understanding."

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.