Strengthening Relations With Private Sector and Diaspora Groups

Posted by Mitul Desai
July 30, 2010
Senior Advisor for Outreach for South and Central Asian Affairs Mitul Desai

About the Author: Mitul Desai serves as Senior Advisor for Outreach for South and Central Asian Affairs.

As the first-ever Senior Advisor for Outreach in the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, I am responsible for building partnerships with South and Central Asia-focused non-governmental entities, such as businesses, non-profits, civil society organizations, and Diaspora groups. Secretary Clinton and my boss -- Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake -- deeply believe that we can strengthen our relations with South and Central Asia by leveraging the multiple resources that outside partners bring to the table. And by creating positions like mine, this vision is being put into action.

Although I come from the private sector, serving my country has been a lifelong dream. Serving in a role that lets me utilize my diverse background makes it that much more special. Before joining government, I specialized in health care, finance, and law. I worked at global law firms, a multinational corporation, an international investment bank, and a nonprofit. Because I was always drawn to public service, I spent much of my free time on public policy issues, particularly those impacting South Asia and South Asian Americans. I hope to use my background to reach out to a broad range of potential partners.

Since the State Department's work touches on virtually every important global issue today, the number of projects and relationships we can build together is limited only by our creativity. We mean it when we say the State Department's door is open for any individual or organization who has an interest in South or Central Asia and a good idea. Because as Secretary Clinton herself said, “in the Obama Administration, we seek collaboration whenever possible.”

All Americans have a special role to play in helping realize Secretary Clinton's vision for 21st Century diplomacy. So I look forward to hearing from you and to finding that unique role for you. There's lots to be done, so let's get to work!



New Mexico, USA
July 31, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:


You may not really understand why I'm finding myself in the land of lost contemplation on a strangely re-occuring basis..(chuckle), until you watch the conversation the good doctor and Senator Kerry were having about the "Organ grinder's monkey"

Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing of 07/27/10




It's hard for me to calculate the odds of a phrase as specific as this one being used in exactly the type of terrorist context that appears in two posts as comment here on Dipnote several days prior to this hearing.

That there would be some connection might well be dismissed.

Well I did mention here that I had invited some "big guns" to weight in on the issue of "Us and Them" as a teachable moment and sent a cordial "drill seargent's perspective" that this blog "wasn't no namby-pamby blog" to the Association of Former US Ambassadors...been lookin' for that RSVP ever since, and I'm wondering if that staffer at Sen. Lugar's office is now somehow trying to send me a subtle answer to the results of my myth busting I had once suggested the Committe members keep tabs on what DoS is doing by checking out this blog frequently...and one good belly laugh deserves another I suppose...since "my onus" I told him was "to bust the all-pervasive urban myth in the American mindset that our government doesn't give a .... what we, the public, thinks."

Actually... you get paid to bust this myth globally cool is that?

Since I'n not, the only thing I can possibly be interested in is results, right? I don't work for a "special interest" unless it's my own.

And now you know why I find myself in the land of lost contemplation so frequently...when I hear things repeated back that seem to indicate the outreach is working.

"Something for everyone-food for thought perhaps;

Call it a "dad thing" and a "mom thing"....

Diplospeak for "Please don't do that!"

What to do when your friend beats his wife?

Be "Concerned." and pull him off her.

Every time it hits the fan Israel has stopped when the international community has asked it to.

Why? Because there is empathy present and accounted for. Terrorists are terrorists for the lack of it. So shine a light on it.

When government and religion become one and the same, this corrupts both completely and inevitably ...Charlemane no differently and the man who claims to have the only interpretation of truth and law becomes devoid of the truth and without dicipline. Empty, and without soul.

An organ grinder's monkey on the loose-nuke,in today's world.

There's a reason I've spent the better part of a week helping to define one word, calling all to debate on the matter.

The weak link in the chain become the strongest when meanings become plainly self evident.

Castles made of sand don't last long on a beach.The tidal forces of history inevitably take them...out to sea. Obliterated from the minds of men.

I wish to recall a little history, the duality of the universe born from the oneness of the stuff of stars.

Grinding dicipline, exaustive investigation.

To go where no one dares.

Into the minds of madmen and return whole to deliver these findings to the sane.

Another fine "lead-in" I suppose,

"Right here, Right now."

We can do this, so long as we remember our joy. They carry a good soul onward.

Speed of thought helms-man, Engage!

The good ship humanity got places to go....(cont).


Good luck and success in your posting as Senior Advisor, I think you'll find the testimony worth the time to watch on a number of levels in relation to what you do and the region you do it in.


United States
July 31, 2010

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Partnerships to do what?

A partner is liable for the obligations incurred by his other partners within the course and scope of the partnership.

So what obligations and liabilities are being created on behalf of the United States with these "partnerships"?

What are the goals of these partnerships with NGO's?

How do foreign governments view State Dept. attempts to influence their populations through NGO partnerships?

Is U.S. influence on their NGO groups seen as benign, or as subversive?

Do we need to become involved in Asia as we have with the "color revolutions" in Eastern Europe?

Is the State Dept. attempting to use foreign NGO groups to create pressure on foreign leaders to act against their better judgement as to what is in their own national interest?

Muthuvel C.
Maryland, USA
August 2, 2010

Dr. Muthuvel C. in Maryland writes:

Dear Mr. Desai,

Congratulations and welcome to the State Dept.
I read your blog above, and you have quite a background. Nice.

I am the outgoing president of FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, ""), the largest umbrella association of North American Tamils in the US. I have been in touch with Secy. Blake on Tamils' related issues, ever since he was the US Ambassador in Colombo few years ago. I originally hail from TamilNadu, but been in US for 30+years now. I am a physical scientist at the Climate Prediction Center with the US Dept. of Commerce.

I am coming to see Secy. Blake (upon his request to meet with a few of us) on this coming Wednesday afternoon at the State Dept. I hope to get a chance to say hello to you and looking forward to seeing you then.


Massachusetts, USA
September 5, 2010

Mona in Massachusetts writes:

Hi Mitual,
Congratulations on a very exciting role that you have.

I hope you make just a few key changes in the way the US has been helping India.

For one, India is full of very beautiful non replicable programs that get huge traction because of their leaders but have not been able to scale up their promise. For example, the wonderful work at Tilonia, Rajasthan in contrast to the work done by Seva of Gujarat. We should help Seva scale up and praise Tilonia but not lose money on them.

We should pick up American projects like One Laptop per Child and help India see the benefit of changing its future sooner than later. India has not managed to get the bottom 80% of its children to get to any kind of learning and has mostly produced children who are good to be domestic help at best. The elite are able to get education as good as anywhere and they barely constitute 5%. The rest are deprived of an opportunity to jon the world we live in.

Since you also have a mandate to bring the diaspora together, please help them elevate their vision of engaging with the nation they left behind. If each successful member of the Indian diaspora in the US adopted just the village they left behind to learn with OLPC approach, India will be a changed country in 15 years like it has not managed to in the past 60. Education has the highest ROI of all investments we can make on this planet. And we should help them move in that direction.

Hope you will support the initiatives that are far from cosmetic and have a foundational impact like OLPC does. Hope you will also support American technology driven social initiatives that have proven results rather than just cosmetic ones.

Best of luck in your new appointment and role and will be glad to support what you do in whichever way possible.

Warm regards,


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