Building the Next Generation of India Experts

Posted by Robert O. Blake
July 15, 2013
Secretary Kerry Walks With Exchange Program Alumni in New Delhi, India

“It’s one thing to read about another culture in a book … but until you’re weaving between cows on your way to work or experiencing the genuine Indian hospitality for yourself, it’s impossible to truly begin to appreciate and understand another culture, especially one as diverse and expansive as in India.” 

This is how Marisa Haire describes her experience living and working in India as a “Passport to India” intern.  A senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Marisa is spending the summer working at a Honeywell subsidiary in India. 

“I already feel more prepared to handle the unexpected, something that will definitely help me in my career,” she notes about her experience.  “I’ve made friends across borders, learned new ways to communicate, and even pushed my spice tolerance, and these aren’t things you can learn in a book.” 

"Passport to India" was created in 2011 to address a critical gap:  fewer than 5,000 American students study in India annually, compared to more than 100,000 Indian students in the United States.  As ties between the United States and India expand, there is a growing need to increase the number of Americans who understand India and who can lead our economic, cultural, and diplomatic engagement.  The initiative’s first 10 corporate partners are sponsoring internships for some American students in India, often in their own India-based offices, and allowing others to study in India through a university program.  The Passport initiative broadens the menu of opportunities in India, whether it’s developing new energy solutions at Honeywell UOP, working on service projects with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), learning a new language, or interning at one of the largest law firms in India.

During his visit to New Delhi for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, Secretary Kerry met Marissa and five other Passport interns who chose to pursue internships and service-learning projects in India.  These students have learned from India’s climate of innovation, deepened their understanding of their respective fields, and bolstered their resumes.  But beyond the technical skills acquired, their greatest gains were made in cultural understanding, broadening their horizons. 

Expanding opportunities for Americans in India is a central component of our education partnership.  Through Passport, we are building the next generation of India experts, ready to propel our bilateral partnership forward.  I have been proud to support this initiative as Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and hope to see the program grow and expand.  I encourage you to check out the State Department’s Passport to India page.



Ashim C.
July 17, 2013
There is a case for young students going to rural India and assess first hand the needs of rural economy for creation of fruit, vegetables and grain storage facility, explore vegetable, fruits, fish and poultry processing and packaging, financial intervention for marketing of value added village agro- products and handicrafts. If rural economy of India improves, demand of goods and services of all kinds will be generated, which will quicken integration of Indian economy with developed economies. Things seem to be improving between US and India. Mr. Kerry came, now VP Biden is coming. Later there is going to be a meeting of President Obama with PM Singh. Yesterday GOI announced a series of liberal FDI policies including in insurance sector, defense production, telecom. They have created huge opportunities which should be seized on reciprocal basis. Ordinary citizens like Marissa should feed fresh ideas on how best developed economies can engage more intensely with Indian rural economy to leaders of two countries for sustainable inclusive growth of both economies without stimulation packages


Latest Stories

November 12, 2010

The Art of Diplomacy: New Delhi

About the Authors: Virginia Shore and Camille Benton serve as Curators for ART in EMBASSIES. President Obama's trip to India… more