Hillary Clinton During Visit To IIT Gandhinagar, Urges Students To Shut Off Social Media To Have Time For Self-Reflection

Known globally for her humanitarian outlook and advocacy for social justice and women’s rights, former First Lady and Secretary of State of the United States of (US) and philanthropist Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) as a part of her India visit and interacted with faculty, students, and the larger IITGN community. She was joined by senior officials of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

During a town hall at the Institute titled “Insights from Her Journey”, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasised the need to take climate action and adopt sustainable alternate solutions in our day-to-day lives.

Picture : TheUNN

Citing an example from her visit to a salt pan farm, where women are using solar-powered pumps, she expressed confidence in India’s ability to meet the alternate energy needs and said, “Alternative clean energy is India’s future, and it would not burden the country, but instead, it can reduce costs and generate more income for the communities. Today India is well-positioned to adopt clean energy to achieve economic growth. But it requires organisation from the public sector, the private sector, and civil society. So, with creative thinking, scientific know-how through institutions like IITGN, bringing down the costs of such alternatives, and decentralising, I really believe that the opportunity for India in being a leader in clean energy is so dramatically available.”

Hillary Clinton during the town hall at IIT Gandhinagar

The former first woman Senator from New York state also underscored the importance of higher education to prepare young people for tomorrow and said, “Education at all levels is the key to the continuing effort for economic and social equality and justice. And higher education is very important to prepare our young generation for future endeavours. It is at the heart of how we continue to provide opportunity, and so it is important to open higher education to as many students as possible with a variety of educational institutions.”

Picture : TheUNN

She also encouraged girls and women to develop enough resilience and support each other in dealing with adversity, “Dealing with adversity is a challenge regardless of gender, but as women, we must develop enough resilience and confidence to go through the adversity. It requires constant preparation all through your life. And it cannot happen overnight; it can be built through childhood and young adulthood. So it is important that parents express confidence in their children and provide an impartial upbringing. My parents had given equal opportunity to me and my two brothers and expected us to stand up for ourselves and be responsible. So from a very young age, I was given an opportunity to pursue my interest and develop my own path in life. Women in professional and public life realise that sexism and misogyny are still around, and sadly it has become quite redolent on social media, which has become a new challenge that we have not confronted before. So, it is important that other women support women who are adversely affected.”

Answering a question from one of the students about key lessons and takeaways from the Covid-19 pandemic, Secretary Clinton said, “There are several lessons, but most importantly, 1) We need to have supply chains in our countries and immediate regions so that we are not dependent and are able to provide what we need; 2) We have to do a much better job in communicating public health messages. There is a lot of uncertainty, which is
understandable at the start of such a Global pandemic, but we didn’t really communicate effectively with large portions of our population. India and the United States did a great and quick job in bringing vaccines to the market compared to other countries.

But we have to have global responses to curb it, and every country, especially China, has to be more open and transparent in sharing accurate information in real-time. They cannot continue to guard information the rest of the world needs to know; 3) We need to be smarter about getting enough access to healthcare that people might need if it happens again. Public health infrastructure should not collapse when an emergency hits. The whole world should come together and try to cooperate about how we are going to prepare for whatever comes next.”

Sharing her thoughts on the importance of self-reflection and introspection while being in leadership roles, Secretary Clinton said, “We are living in such a fast-paced world and being overstimulated by information as well as misinformation. So I think it’s especially important to shut off social media and your phone in order to have that time for self-reflection. Do an activity like arts, exercise or just a walk in nature without any other digital distractions, which helps you relax and distress.”

Secretary Clinton also shared a few anecdotes from her college life and motivation to keep going in her professional career in public service. Welcoming the distinguished guest, Prof Rajat Moona, Director, IITGN, said, “It is a matter of great honour to host Secretary Hillary Clinton at IIT Gandhinagar today, who has done immense work for various communities around the world. It is this philosophy of improving lives and giving back that has guided the endeavors of IIT Gandhinagar over the years. We believe in adopting a global outlook in our academic and research activities and applying it to address some global as well as regional challenges. Our effort has been to equip our students not only with cutting-edge scientific and technological knowledge but also social empathy.”

Earlier to her interactive town hall, which was moderated by Prof Bhaskar Datta, Secretary Hillary Clinton also visited Palaj village and appreciated significant efforts of the Desai Foundation (one of the Commitment Makers being recognized by Clinton Global Initiative) and their initiatives along with their partnership with IITGN’s social outreach programmes, NEEV and NYASA, in impacting rural youth, women, and communities through skilling,
entrepreneurship, and health programs.

Through the grassroots-level training projects, mentoring, and networking opportunities provided by NEEV, youth and women from these areas have been able to earn a sustainable livelihood and support their families. Through health camps organized by NYASA and its team of student volunteers, hundreds of residents of nearby villages are provided free medical check-ups by expert physicians, orthopaedics, gynaecologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists and dentists. The beneficiaries are also provided free medicines, spectacles, and essential information related to health and nutrition.

Prof Harish P M, Dean of General Administration, who also coordinated the entire event at IITGN, said, “Our students and community members were eagerly looking forward to hearing from Secretary Clinton, and we were all delighted that she could take time out of her hectic visit to speak to the students. Both her journey and her words were a source of great inspiration for many of our students. Her words of appreciation for our social outreach programme NEEV and student initiative NYASA along with our partnership with Desai Foundation have given us a great impetus to continue creating a more inclusive environment.”

As a gesture of gratitude for spending time with IITGN students, Secretary Clinton was honored with thoughtful gifts as a memory from IITGN, including “Meghadutam – The Cloud Message”, a book having an English translation of the famous lyrical poem by classical Sanskrit poet and dramatist Kalidasa, by Prof Srinivas Reddy, a Guest Professor at IITGN, and an indo-western jacket made using exquisite Mashru silk with traditional Ajrakh print, specially designed and crafted for the guest by artisans of NEEV-IITGN.

Secretary Clinton was in India to help advance Clinton Global Initiative – CGI’s Commitments to Action that are providing employment opportunities and critical health care services to girls and women, while also providing critical support for climate resilience in the region. These Commitments were made by members of the CGI community at the CGI 2022 Meeting, which resulted in 144 new Commitments to Action addressing climate resilience, global health equity, inclusive economic growth, the global refugee crisis, and other critical global challenges.

The Desai Foundation, an IIT Gandhinagar partner in their work to engage students + teachers in social work in the nearby areas, welcomed Secretary Clinton to Palaj village. Here she saw three of their flagship programmes – Heroes for Humanity, a programme born from the COVID pandemic that employs 500 local village residents and provides them with training to deliver local programming. This programme was a part of CGI’s Commitments to Action at the CGI 2022 Meeting. The second is their flagship Asani Sanitary Napkin and Menstrual Equity Programme. And lastly, the Desai Foundation Health Camp, in collaboration with the IITGNNYASA students, a programme that brings healthcare to rural communities.

South Asians who backed Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly are disappointed

Indian Americans, who are traditionally Democrats, were stunned by the outcome of the general elections in the United States, where Donald Trump crushed Hillary Clinton in the race to the White House on November 8th, 2016.

Democrats and Republicans had intensified their campaigns in the community for their presidential candidates on the eve of Tuesday’s monumental elections. Democrats took a broader approach reaching out to all South Asians over the weekend, while Republicans focused on Hindus.

A national online survey of Indian-Americans reveals that a whopping 79.43% of them would vote for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, while 14.89% would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson received 1.42% support from Indian-Americans. The survey was conducted during Oct. 21-26 after the third and final presidential debate.

The opinion poll, which was piloted by IndUS Business Journal and its sister publication INDIA New England News, also revealed that 46.43% of Indian-Americans are registered as Independents, while 38.57% are Democrats, and only 5% are registered as Republicans.

“The biggest surprise was that nearly half of the Indian-Americans are registered as Independents,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of IndUS Business Journal and INDIA New England News. “The general assumption among Non-Resident Indians is that a vast majority of Indian-Americans are registered as Democrats.” Mishra said that despite an intense campaign by a small Hindu minority to support Trump, the campaign by the Republican Hindu Coalition has fallen on deaf ears.

“A vast majority of the NRI community in the United States is open-minded and beyond the pettiness of caste and religion,” Mishra said. “The strength in diversity and openness is one of the greatest strengths of NRIs in the United States and worldwide.”

Republicans have been trying to break into the Democratic Party base, with a campaign targeting Hindus. Last month Trump addressed a charity event organized by Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) that drew about 8,000 people in New Jersey. He vowed at the event to be a friend of Hindus and Indians.

Clinton has not made a similar direct appeal to Indian Americans given the wide margin of their historic support. Her Indian American and South Asian supporters have instead concentrated on mobilizing fellow Democrats to go out and vote, especially those living in key battleground states to her victory.

Both sides waged a battle on community televisions and on the digital media. Democrats ran a phone bank with volunteers calling up South Asians in the key states, urging them to vote for Clinton. The RHC blanketed voters thought to be Hindus with printed campaign material.

Amit Jani of South Asians for Hillary (SAHILL) told the media that about 200 volunteers were out over the weekend knocking on doors of South Asians and making phone calls to them to vote for Clinton, concentrating on the battleground states. The group prepared a list of South Asians by going through the master voters’ rolls to

help them campaign, he said. The Democratic Party commercials, on the other hand, focused on the future generations of South Asians and Indian Americans, according to Varun Nikore, the vice chair of the Asian American Pacific Islander Victory Fund (AAPIVF), which backs Clinton.

RHC sent out printed campaign material accusing Clinton of being “Best friend of Pakistan, China and Radical Islamic Terrorists” and of advocating an immigration policy that will make Indians “wait 50 years” for Green Cards. Focusing on Indian businesspeople and doctors, the RHC said that Clinton was “pro-labour” and will extend President Barack Obama’s health care program to force all medical professionals to work for the government.

It said that Trump is a friend of Hindus and was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and would increase trade with India at the expense of China and enable Indians to get more Green Cards.

Some of these themes played out on the RHC TV advertisements, which also alleged that Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, whose mother is a Pakistani, would influence Clinton’s foreign policy. The Republican Hindu Coalition released a new ad Nov. 2, attacking Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, for her Pakistani heritage.

The 30-second television spot, which is running on several Indian American television stations, including Zee TV, TV Asia, Times Now and Star TV, amongst other outlets, begins with an attack on Clinton for her alleged ties to Pakistan. The ad notes that the candidate has given “billions of dollars” and military equipment to

Pakistan, “to be used against India.” The spot also notes that Clinton “was instrumental” in blocking a U.S. visa for Narendra Modi for several years, until he became prime minister of India. The RHC spot also alleged that former U.S. President Bill Clinton supports “giving Kashmir to Pakistan.”

With the race for the White House tightening, Indian-American Democrats are making a push to get their community to turn out to vote for Hillary Clinton, saying she’s been a steadfast friend of Indians and India.

Leaders of “Indian Americans for Democrats and Friends of Hillary for President” appealed in particular to Indians living in states expected to play a key role in the presidential elections next week saying that despite its small size the community’s votes could have an outsize effect in a tight race.

Bhupi Patel, a community leader, spoke of the influence Indians steadily have built up in US politics and their impact on India-US relations. He recalled Indian American Center for Political Awareness founded by the late newspaper pioneer Gopal Raju and how it encouraged Indians to get involved in politics and helped India and the US develop closer ties.

Patel said that Clinton’s agenda for health care, immigration reform and improving the quality of and access to education meshed in with that of Indian Americans for whom these were crucial issues.

Nearly three fourth of Indian Americans support Hillary Clinton

Indian American registered voters, who are historically known to be Democrats, are overwhelmingly Democratic, with 70% of them supporting Hillary Clinton, according to a new National Asian American Survey (NAAS).

In its October 5th report, the survey found only 7% Indian American voters are likely to vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. This was the lowest support Trump got amongst Asian communities. While the Hmong community also had the same 7% support for Trump, 25% Filipinos, 20% Japanese, 16% Cambodians and Vietnamese said they would vote Trump. At 11%, even the Chinese had more likely Trump voters than Indians.

Indian American community led both the 2012 and the 2016 polls with overwhelming support for Democrats. While in 2012 it was 68% Democratic, with only 10% shown as Republicans, in 2016, 71% registered voters are seen as Democrats vs. 13% as Republicans, for a net gain of one percent.

A whopping 79% Indian Americans view Trump unfavorably, with 67% viewing him very unfavorably, the survey found. The NAAS sampled 2,238 Asian-Americans and 305 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reached out to Indian American voters at an Edison, New Jersey rally on October 15 organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition, promising India would always have a friend in the White House if he is elected.

“India is a strategic ally for the U.S. I look forward to deepening the diplomatic and military cooperation that is shared between both countries,” said the candidate, addressing a crowd of 8,000 people at the “Humanity United Against Terrorism” rally, held at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center.

“India has been a great friend to the U.S. in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” said Trump, noting that President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have not used the phrase.

“India has seen first-hand the brutality of Islamic terrorism,” he said, uttering his first political gaffe of the 13-minute long speech by confusing the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi with the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, in which ten young militants arriving by sea from Pakistan killed 167 people at several venues throughout the city. “I love Hindu. I love India,” was Trump’s second gaffe of the evening, when he seemingly declared “Hindu” as a country.

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee (RNC) released a report calling on the party to do a better job connecting with minority populations. The RNC hired a national field director, Stephen Fong, and a national communications director, Jason Chung, to conduct outreach to Asian-American voters. Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of the NAAS, said in an interview that the GOP was “trying to project this image of the Republican Party that was more open, that is more tolerant, that is trying to do significant outreach to the community.”