India West (Aug 31, 2009) 
Ambassador Shankar Delivers Gandhi Lecture in San Diego 

STAFF REPORTER in San Diego, California

Indian Ambassador to the United States Meera Shankar delivered the 26th annual Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Lecture July 12 at the University of California at San Diego. 

The annual event is organized by the San Diego Indian American Society, which awarded scholarships to 21 students, including four AVID Scholarships for four years to students from families with no college graduates in their histories. The awards totaled $32,000, SDIAS founder M.C. Madhavan told the audience. 

During her stay in San Diego, Shankar was presented with the key to the city of San Diego by Mayor Jerry Sanders and spoke on Indo-U.S. relations at a World Affairs Council program July 13. 

Introduced at the SDIAS event by U.C.-San Diego Chancellor Mary Anne Fox, Shankar said that Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas "remain relevant to all aspects of our national and individual lives." "The greatest tribute to Gandhiji, she said, "would be to live a life of selfless action dedicating ourselves to the common good so that we can wipe at least one tear ‘if not every tear from every eye,’ as the Mahatma wanted us to." 

"Today, when terrorism and fundamentalism have become threats of global proportions, we have to rededicate ourselves to the essential values of peace, humanity and the dignity of every individual, if we are to survive," Shankar said. 

"Perhaps no other modern figure comes close to exercising as much influence on public life for such a long period," she added. University of Michigan market strategy professor C.K Prahalad was installed as the new president of SDIAS, succeeding Sanjay Jha, the co-chief executive officer of Motorola. 

The first Gandhi Memorial lecture was delivered by the late scientist Dr. Jonas Salk and last year’s lecture was given by Professor Raj Mohan Gandhi. 

Essays on Gandhi were read by student scholarship recipients. One paper by Paresh Dave was singled out by Madhavan as "erudite and-thought provoking." 

Founded in 1984, SDIAS has awarded scholarships to 400 high school graduates in San Diego County from contributions by the local Indian American community. 

The organization has also supported 25 projects in India, including primary and secondary education projects, an eye hospital in Orissa, and public health and community development programs. SDIAS’ annual Festival of Lights will be held Oct. 25 jointly with Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. 

Shankar told the World Affairs Council the next day that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have "reiterated a commitment to continue the process of further strengthening the (Indo-U.S.) relationship, to build on the impressive progress of recent years to build what Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton described as the third level of India-US relations." 

"Our Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma was in Washington in June. National Security Adviser General Jim Jones and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns were in India last month and Secretary Clinton’s (then upcoming) visit to India later this month will establish the framework of our engagement and priorities in the coming years," Shankar said. 

"A recent study by Ernst & Young shows that there were 143 Indian investments in 2007 and 2008 across various sectors in the U.S., ranging from a few million dollars to a billion dollars. Contrary to perceptions that investment and job flows in the IT sector are a one-way street, nearly half of the Indian investment and new ventures were in U.S. IT and IT-enabled sectors." 

"From the perspective of India, transformation of her relations with the U.S. has been probably the most significant feature of its foreign policy over the past decade," Shankar said.