Findlay Kember/AFP/Getty Images
About 700 students packed an auditorium at Delhi University on Monday to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's ideas for a much broader and deeper U.S.-India relationship.
About 700 students packed an auditorium at Delhi University on Monday to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's ideas for a much broader and deeper U.S.-India relationship. Findlay Kember/AFP/Getty Images
Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in New Delhi.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in New Delhi. Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce a new strategic dialogue with India on Monday, as well as a series of agreements to boost military and nuclear sales to the world's largest democracy. But before heading into formal meetings, Clinton sat down with students to talk about ways to bring relations to a higher level.
About 700 students packed an auditorium at Delhi University to hear Clinton's ideas for a much broader and deeper U.S.-India relationship. She said the dialogue now covers everything from regional security issues and nuclear nonproliferation to fighting hunger and climate change.
"We have differences of history and tradition, of perspective and experience," she said. "But what has occurred in the last 15 years between our two countries, in a bipartisan way, starting with my husband, continuing with President Bush and now with President Obama, is a very exciting new approach to our relationship and to the futures we wish to build."
But she's also gotten a taste of how independent-minded this country remains. Take the issue of climate change. India's environment minister made clear Sunday that he doesn't want to be pressured by the United States to agree to legally binding limits on the country's greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration's special envoy on climate change is staying in New Delhi to work on this issue some more. On Monday, Clinton tried to make the most of that very public dispute.
"I thought it was an incredibly important exchange," she said. "We understand the difficulties that each of our countries face in trying to deal with climate change, so now let's see if we can't together find some creative solutions. On issue after issue, I think both the president and I are committed to truly respecting the views of others."
As is often the case when Clinton meets with students, several asked her about U.S. politics and how far apart she is on foreign affairs with her new boss. Clinton said the Democratic primary campaign just amplified slight differences. She seemed to enjoy the interaction.
Perhaps the lightest moment came when the secretary was asked about cultural differences between the two big democracies. She said it is time for Indians and Americans to get over the stereotypes promoted by their movies and television.
"If Hollywood and Bollywood were how we all lived our lives, that would surprise me. And yet it's often the way our cultures are conveyed, isn't it?" she said. "People watching a Bollywood movie in some other part of Asia think everybody in India is beautiful, and they have dramatic lives and happy endings. And if you were to watch American TV and our movies, you think we don't wear clothes and we spend a lot of time fighting each other."
The secretary spent the whole weekend doing this sort of public diplomacy and — as she joked — eating too much Indian food. She is clearly hoping that this sort of personal contact will pay off in the future — if she can manage to get this fast-growing global power to be a closer partner with the U.S.