A top official from India is in Iowa today (Monday), hoping to strengthen ties with the state and its education and agricultural institutions.
Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister for Science and Technology and Ocean Development, is meeting with Iowa’s governor as well as state education leaders. “I think that India and the United States of America are on for a long-term relationship,” Sibal says. Sibal points out that India is the world’s oldest and largest democracy with what he says are “cherished and shared values.”
Sibal describes India as a “multi-cultural and multi-racial society” which now has as a Muslim as its president, a Sikh as its prime minister and a Roman Catholic as head of the nation’s largest political party. “The United States of America has a stake in ensuring the success of Indian democracy,” Sibal says. “The less important goal is how our commerce at both ends is in a win-win situation.”
Just over one-third of the residents of Sibal’s country are illiterate, and Sibal says one reason he’s here is to build partnerships with Iowa education institutions and learn how his country might reach its most rural residents. “It’s a very complex issue in India. Thirty-six percent of our people are not literate. You’re talking about 360 million people which is more than the total population of the United States,” Sabil says. “It’s a real challenge for us and I think that there has to be a national commitment to ensure that there’s 100 percent literacy.”
Governor Tom Vilsack led a trade delegation to India a month ago and met with Sibal while there. This morning, Vilsack hosted a breakfast at the governor’s mansion for Sibal and a group of ten Indian officials who will visit the University of Iowa’s campus to tour two high-tech projects. The group will then be flown to Iowa Falls for a tour of the Hawkeye Renewables ethanol plant.