Ambassador Meera Shankar, India's Ambassador to the United States, came to GW Tuesday to speak at a presentation held by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies' India Initiative. The event was the first collaboration of the Sigur Center, the Elliott School's Ambassadors Forum and the Distinguished Women in International Affairs series.
The ambassador's talk focused mostly on Indo-U.S. relations, particularly the strategic partnership that the nations have. She discussed everything from cooperation on trade in the context of the recent economic depression to the sharing of higher education. She emphasized the presences of 100,000 Indian students in American universities and the opportunity presented by additional programs opening up in India for Americans to study there.
Much attention was focused on stabilizing Asia, and the ambassador spoke at length about efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. The ambassador noted that Afghanistan represents a major hot zone in the area, but she stated her belief that the nation can be a hub of economic prosperity in the region. She spoke of how India already has given $1.3 billion in the effort to stabilize Afghanistan. Later in the program she elaborated on this idea, expressing that Iran should be allowed to enter the dialogue about Afghanistan. However, Shankar made clear that this does not mean that India supports Iran's nuclear programs.
The speech ended with a discussion about the need for reforming global governance, especially the United Nations Security Council. She expressed her deep hope that President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to India, the first since he came to office, will lay a course for further strategic partnership between the world's two largest democracies.