Indian and American youngsters came together on Tuesday at Mumbai's Gateway House for a dialogue about American President Barack Obama's visit to India.
The discussion, organized by the Indian Council on Global Relations, centered around formulating a joint declaration for Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Russell Mason, Ali Rosen, and Nishant Dixit represented the American side, and Akanksha Mohal, Akshay Mathur, and Rishabh Shah spoke for India. Craig Johnson, superintendent, American School, Mumbai, moderated the event. The youngsters spoke about employment, environment, security, entrepreneurship and climate change.
Dr Indu Shahani, principal, H R College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai, spoke about the India-US educational ties.
"In the latest Shanghai rankings, American universities top the list, and more than 50 per cent of the scholars in science and economics are from the US," she said. "India's contribution to the US educational growth cannot be ignored as 38 per cent of US doctors are from India. The same goes for scientists, and other experts."
She also spoke about the developing junior college think tank, which is required to formulate ideas and opinion about Obama's visit. The panelists discussed pertinent issues they expected the two leaders to address.
Talking on education, Ali Rosen said, "When we talk about student exchange, then we also need to pay attention on the issues concomitant thereto. Only 20 per cent of students from America go to India to study, which is significantly less when compared to the number of students who goes from India to America. For this, America should include India in their curriculum, where students would not only know more about India but also would like to come to India to study."
Russell Mason underlined the technological changes that could facilitate the educational exchange between the two countries as, in such a situation, the access to resources would be more simple and less cumbersome.
Akanksha Mohal said, "The Internet would definitely be a good medium to facilitate flow of educational resources. However, when we consider India's potential in this field it won't be possible to cover the entire nation. Considering the Internet's limited accessibility the goal of spreading education would be non-inclusive in nature. The other feasible option that we have is the common IT-Telecom sector. A good number of Indian posses a cell-phone. India being the country which has the maximum number of cell-phone users, can be an effective instrument to spread education as children can learn easily in their respective mother-tongues."
The quality of education too came up for discussion as also the necessary skill.
Rishabh Shah said, "We should be taught to think out of the box. If we are equipped to think differently we will able to handle any situation."
The environmental issues and their economics -- pollutant technology being cheaper than non-pollutant one -- generated much heat. The government's inability to tackle such environmental problems too found a mention.
"The private sector should take upon itself to deal with the environment-specific issues," suggested Ali Rosen.
Rishabh Shah said, "The situation in India is different; they have been at the receiving end of terrorism since 1947, whereas terrorism is a recent phenomenon for the US."
Ali said "Due to ideological differences, the agreement on the issue like terrorism is slightly difficult as Pakistan is being aided by the US on an ongoing basis."