Remarks by Mark Anthony White at the AIF Clinton Fellowship Closing Seminar

Friday, June 29, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It is my privilege to be here today to meet and address the America India Foundation (AIF’s) William J. Clinton Fellows. 

I am delighted that this program is building the next generation of leaders – men and women who are committed to lasting change for underprivileged communities in India.

It is wonderful to meet all of you and to listen to your impressive work, your achievements, and your experiences. You are brand ambassadors of our country – the United States and I am very proud of what you have already achieved and what I believe lies ahead for each one of you.

As you take forward your journey of self-realization and development, what you have learned and experienced in this wonderful country will build a permanent link of understanding and empathy between the two countries.  I would also like to share some of my experiences. Also, I would like to offer some advice to you, if I may!

The motto of the program - “Serve, Learn and Lead” – is very much aligned to my personal philosophy.

I started my development journey as a former United States Peace Corps volunteer.

Later, I became a Senior Foreign Service officer with USAID. I have worked in over 30 countries across four continents. I have worked in Angola, Haiti, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Zambia, and Egypt and now in India.

I have also worked in the U.S. Army War College as a Professor --teaching a course in International Development, as well as working on selected peace-keeping and stability research topics and academic seminars.

I have coordinated development projects and also advised the U.S. army on strategies to integrate and synchronize defense activities with development and humanitarian assistance. 

I have been blessed to have lived and worked in many Asian and African countries. I consider myself very lucky that I got to work in different countries.

Whenever, I go to a new country, I look forward to learning more about the culture, the people and the environment. I try to learn as much as possible about the country. I enjoy the food, the culture, the history, and of course, meet new colleagues and make new friends.

My advice to you would be to embrace the diversity. Remain curios, creative, and imbibe passion for policy, people and culture and a genuine interest in the region or country of assignment.

My personal favorite is also the ability to listen closely to others and keep assumptions to a minimum. I always 'listen to the people' – I listen and learn.  My development mantra is to strive for: 'people-to-people level impact'. I strongly believe in listening and incorporating one's culture/belief system into the development approaches.

I would encourage you to continue your engagement with India, with its people, and social development; and instill the values of service in your future careers.

As Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” So believe in your dreams and march ahead to a brighter future.

As you may know, I work with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.

In India, USAID works to help the Indian government, institutions, and organizations to promote innovative approaches to health, education, economic growth, agriculture, and the environment.

On track to become the world’s most populous country by 2030, India faces the difficult task of providing its growing population with access to quality health care, potable water, education and clean energy.

The U.S. supports India’s efforts to deliver these services as a strategic partner and ally in maintaining regional stability, expanding regional trade and addressing development challenges.

USAID leverages India’s growing human and financial resources through partnerships that catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship to solve critical local and global development challenges.  

The United States and India share a peer-to-peer relationship that involves close collaboration to solve development challenges.

U.S. assistance in India helps advance this shared agenda by engaging a range of stakeholders to end extreme poverty and increase citizens’ access to quality health care, potable water, education and clean energy.  It's all about creating a better quality of life for people in India and in other developing countries.

This way, development plays a key role in strengthening the U.S.-India relationship, which is poised to become a 21st century alliance, based in Asia, working towards the goal of global prosperity.

Never before in history have two such diverse and culturally distinct powers been united by a shared vision for the global good. We cherish similar traditions of tolerance, participatory governance and rules-based international systems.

We have a lot of areas of mutual cooperation including fighting violent extremism. Both of our constitutions start with the same three words “we the people.” We both respect minority rights and diversity, and we have federal systems, with a multitude of states that can be so different from coast to coast. It’s no surprise that the Indian Prime Minister calls us “natural allies.”

Person-to person diplomacy between the two countries is strongest in the last couple of years and is playing an important role in strengthening these ties. Some examples of our people-to-people ties include:

Last year we processed over a million visas, many of which are India students studying in the U.S.  Higher education plays a central role in the U.S.-India relationship.   One out of every six international students in the United States is from India. And this number continues to grow.

There are more than three million Americans of Indian ancestry.  Indian Americans enhance our science and space cooperation where diversity of thought is essential for innovation.  These people-people ties bring us together in ways that complement the work of our two governments.

Just like your fellowship program, the U.S. Government supports several exchange programs, which engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries.  For example:

The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 new grants annually.  India is one of over 155 countries participating in the Fulbright Program and India’s program is one of the largest with more than 350 fellowships granted annually. 

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) exchange program supports short-term visits to the United States for current and emerging Indian leaders in a variety of fields experience this country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts.

Each time I step out into the field, visiting places where our programs are building lives, or supporting young girls reach school, or encountered healthy mothers cradling their infants, they are all to me personally the testament of the strength of U.S.-India collaboration.

Each impact that we have achieved has not been our alone. We have had immense support from the Indian Government, from local and international partners in moving us closer to our goals of building a world that just and prosperous.

We need to continue to collaborate globally to address the development challenges we face.

I congratulate the present class on your achievements. I encourage you all to stay engaged and committed to U.S.-India collaboration. Good luck and thank you for the role you play in strengthening U.S.-India friendship!

My sincere appreciation to all who helped put this event together, and for giving me the honor and privilege to be part of it.

Thank you.

New Delhi
Issuing Country 

Last updated: January 22, 2020

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