Monday, November 01, 2010

Rajiv Shah On US-India Partnership To End Global Hunger And Poverty

Video: Development goals of President's trip to India
In advance of President Obama's trip to India on Nov. 6-9, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah delivered the keynote address at the US India People to People Conference on Thursday, Oct. 28. Shah is the highest-ranking Indian American in the Obama administration, and will accompany the President to India. Shah spoke about the growing US-India partnership to end global hunger, malnutrition, disease, and poverty, something President Obama will address while in New Delhi on Nov. 7, according to White House officials.

"We are very excited to be expanding our partnerships with India and with institutions, companies and public sector ministries in India to work on development-related activities," Shah said.

Held by the State Department, the conference was sponsored by the Indian American Leadership Council and the American India Foundation, and designed to "highlight the crucial role of Indian Americans in the ever-strengthening U.S.-India relationship." (Shah, above)

Conference attendees included members of the Indian-American community, Assistant Secretary Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of Education and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock and Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Meera Shankar.

Born to Indian parents from Mumbai who emigrated to the US in the 1960s, Shah was raised in Michigan.

"I approach this trip with a sense of enthusiasm and pride," said Shah. "As an Indian-American, I've gotten to experience, I think, what many in this room have, which is just a tremendous sense of pride as they've observed India over the last decade really grow into a tremendously positive force in the world."

He briefly described his own childhood before he outlined future efforts to end global hunger, poverty, malnutrition and disease.

"What that basically means is efforts to reduce poverty and hunger and child malnutrition, efforts to continue to work together to address the spread of disease and the efforts to empower women, particularly in rural communities, throughout India and South Asia," Shahs said. "And really new efforts, but efforts that build on India's own strong tradition that is getting stronger by the day, of really beginning to connect some of the core technical expertise in India with countries all around the world."

As an example of such efforts, Shah noted that the US and India are working together to "convert some of the drip-irrigation systems that allow for improved vegetable production into very cheap PVC and high-volume production that can reach really millions of South Asian families and improve the core nutritional standing of children who still suffer dramatically from malnutrition."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a video address to the conference.

"Earlier this year, the governments of the United States and India opened a Strategic Dialogue to advance our cooperation on some of the toughest challenges we face – including improving global health, developing sources of renewable energy, educating more of our children, and empowering people to improve their own lives. … But we know that governments alone cannot solve any of these problems. We need ideas, and help, from people like you," Clinton said. "I hope that by sharing your ideas with one another, you can identify new and creative ways to deliver results that will make a difference in the lives of people and communities in India and around the world."

*C-SPAN video; Shah file photo