Ambassador Nirupama Rao travelled to Utah from June 13-14, 2013 on a visit to promote exchanges between India and this important state in the western part of the U.S. well-known as a center of information technology and research, mining, transportation, education, and a major tourist destination. Ambassador Rao’s engagements were mainly in Salt Lake City and Provo.
During the visit, Ambassador Rao interacted with Utah’s prominent business leaders at a luncheon meeting hosted jointly by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, the World Trade Centre of Utah and the US International Trade and Diplomacy Office in Utah. Ambassador Rao met the Lt. Governor of Utah, Mr. Gregory S Bell at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. (Governor Gary Richard Herbert who she was scheduled to meet was unavoidably held up outside the capital because of a technical malfunction to his plane). Ambassador Rao had meetings with Dr. Cecil O. Samuelson, President of Brigham Young University (BYU) and Dr. Sandra Rogers, International Vice President of BYU, and addressed faculty and students at the BYU at Provo. Ambassador Rao visited the Sikh Temple of Utah in Salt Lake City and the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) in South Jordan where she interacted with the Indian American community, who also hosted a felicitation ceremony for the Ambassador at the ICC.
At the luncheon meeting held at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador Rao, while stressing the need for increased cooperation in R & D and investment diversification, recognized the important contribution of the ever growing commerce between the two countries and emphasized the need for further improving business ties as part of the ongoing strategic partnership between the two countries. Over 60 business leaders of Utah from various fields attended the event including Indian American entrepreneurs.
Ambassador Rao also visited the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and met with senior Church leaders in Salt Lake City.
During the meeting with Lt. Governor Bell, Ambassador Rao explained the ongoing strategic cooperation between India and the US in various fields including education, trade & business, technology, defense cooperation, energy, anti-terrorism efforts, civil nuclear cooperation, R & D, etc. and expressed her deep appreciation for the efforts by the Utah government to foster economic growth by encouraging investments in industry especially high-tech businesses, which also attracts and includes Indian entrepreneurs, generating local employment. Noting India’s growing need for expanded higher education and vocational skills development, Ambassador Rao highlighted India’s interest in learning from the U.S. experience in setting up community colleges. She invited the Utah state to explore collaborative avenues with Indian educational institutions especially through the University of Utah and BYU. Lt. Governor Bell conveyed his state’s increasing interest in India, expressed his admiration for India’s economic progress and interest in furthering cooperation especially in the education and high-tech sectors while trying to increase Utah’s mineral exports to India. Ambassador Rao invited investments from Utah to India and emphasized the mutually beneficial nature of economic engagement between India and the United States.
At the BYU, Mr. Kirk Larsen, the Assistant Director of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies hosted the Ambassadorial lecture for students and faculty members from the University’s Political Science and International Relations Departments. The Ambassadorial Lectures are part of several successful international programs at BYU instituted by the International Vice President of BYU Dr. Erlend Peterson since 1996, in which Ambassadors of various countries have been invited to further international ties. Ambassador Rao spoke about India, the India-U.S. strategic partnership, future challenges and prospects. In an interactive session that followed the address, students asked questions about India’s role in the contemporary world, India’s foreign policy, tasks and challenges ahead for the India’s diplomacy and the impact of social media.