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Press Release on the visit of Ambassador to Columbia University, NY

Washington, DC
April 1, 2010

Columbia University has instituted the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Chair at the Columbia University Law School and two Professor Jagdish Bhagwati scholarships with support from the Government of India. Ambassador Meera Shankar addressed students, faculty and guests of Columbia University in New York on the occasion of their institution on 1st April 2010. She met with Mr. Bollinger, President of the Columbia University, Provost of the Columbia University, Mr. Claude Steele, Dean of the Law School Mr. David Schizer and many other faculty members.

Welcoming the initiative to set up the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Chair at the Columbia Law School, Ambassador Shankar said the Chair commemorates one of the great leaders of India in the 20th Century and one of Columbia University’s alumnus – Dr. Ambedkar. He is remembered today as a symbol of social change, as a vigorous advocate of social justice and as an architect of the Indian national Constitution.

In her address on the occasion entitled "Democracy and Pluralism in India", Ambassador Shankar stressed that India stands out as a developing country with a pluralistic democracy, which has become increasingly robust. She stated that the "Indian Constitution became an instrument not only for freedom, but also for empowerment; a means not merely to guarantee and protect, but also to transform; a framework to not only accommodate India’s diversity, but to also enable social groups that were on the periphery of society and on the margins of power to participate fully in the nation’s political and economic processes". The democratic process in India with free elections where each vote counts and counts equally has strengthened the political forces, which promote equity and inclusiveness. She said that “as the economy has grown and modernized and as the regions across the country are getting increasingly integrated and interlinked, the avenues for all groups have increased, though ensuring that growth is inclusive remains a key national challenge and priority". Ambassador Shankar said that India looked ahead with a sense of confidence based on the progress we have achieved, our experiences and the lessons we have learnt over the past six decades. For full text of Ambassador’s speech click here.