MUMBAI, India – Before American President Barack Obama set foot on Indian soil,
youth of India met here with their American counterparts to discuss issues
ranging from climate change and terrorism to education and jobs.
Rishab Shah, a second year student of the HR College of Commerce and
The Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, a Mumbai-based think
tank, organized a panel discussion that included three Indian and three American
American panelist Russell Mason, who works with the Mahindra Group, said that
through the use of technology, American knowledge and resources can act as a
supplement to India’s education system.
Building on that idea, Akanksha Mohla, an Indian who works with the Mahindra
Group, said in the Indian context, “The wave is going to be led by technology of
the internet on the mobile.”
Panelists addressed ticklish issues like outsourcing, intelligence exchange,
U.S. aid to Pakistan, hikes in visa fees and whether the U.S. would support a
permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council with veto power.
Climate change stimulated the greatest response both from the youthful panel and
its young audience.
Asked later about her expectations from Obama’s visit, American panelist Ali
Rosen said, “I am hoping something concrete comes out of it.”
Rishab Shah, a panelist and second year student of the HR College of Commerce
and Economics, said he expects “concrete headway on UNSC seat” for India.
Rosen, a former broadcast journalist, said she thinks India and the U.S. should
seize this opportunity to enhance military cooperation. She said poverty
alleviation in India is one issue where America could do more.
“I think U.S. has to admit they used Indian talent,” said Rosen. “U.S. has to
On the other hand, Shah said both nations should bolster strategic alliance and
cooperation in the private sector.
“Politics on both sides” could mar Obama’s trip to India, Rosen said before the
presidential visit. She added that the leaders should not try to address their
domestic constituency during the visit.
From the audience, young Alastair Trueger who works with the Mahindra Group in
India with corporate strategy said “Pakistan, nuclear cooperation and climate
change” are three issues which could play spoilsport role during the visit.
“It’s likely that there will be plaudits and handshakes galore, but the real
issues won’t be touched,” Trueger said.
Rosen said, and Trueger agreed, that youth from India and the U.S. should come
together on a platform like this more often.
Shah said the role of youth in Indo-U.S. relation should be enhanced from mere
tokenism to substantive participation in making policy.
Trueger who threw some tough questions at the panel, said the discussion was
both interesting and “scrupulously polite.”
Craig Johnson, superintendent of American School, chaired the panel. He said the
idea was to “formulate an agenda that is sustainable” based on what the youth
thought should be discussed during Obama’s visit to India and send the document
to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and to the American president.
In a gesture of cross-cultural interaction, Johnson inaugurated the event by
lighting a lamp and invoking Saraswati, who is considered the goddess of
knowledge in Hindu mythology.
The Panel + Sheriff of Mumbai (extreme right). (L-R) Russell Mason, Ali Rosen,
Nishant Dixit, Craig Johnson, Akanksha Mohla, Akshay Mathur, Rishab Shah and
Indu Shahani. The three panelist on the left of Craig Johnson represented US and
those on the right represented India. Speaking at the lectern on extreme right
is the Sheriff of Mumbai.