India’s ambassador to US to speak at Rice

Rao to present ‘A Perspective on the India-US Global Strategic Partnership’

Ambassador President Barack Obama has cited the relationship between the United States and India as “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century,” and India’s ambassador to the U.S. will share her insight on that partnership during a lecture at Rice University Nov. 10.

Nirupama Rao will present “A Perspective on the India-U.S. Global Strategic Partnership” at 6 p.m. at the Jones Graduate School of Business’ Shell Auditorium in McNair Hall, 6100 Main St. The lecture, sponsored by the office of Rice President David Leebron, is free and open to the public. For a campus map, visit rice.edu/maps.

Rao became ambassador to the U.S. in August, less than a month after officials from the world’s two largest democracies met in New Delhi, India, for the second U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. At that meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and India External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna agreed to advance the two countries' shared interests, including increased counterterrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing, law-enforcement exchanges, defense cooperation, export controls, clean energy and scientific, space and technology collaboration.

Rao attended that dialogue meeting as India’s foreign secretary – a position she held from Aug. 1, 2009 to July 31, 2011.

Her new role as ambassador to the U.S. is not her first stint as an ambassador. She served as India’s ambassador to Peru with concurrent accreditation to Bolivia from 1995 to 1998, and she was India’s ambassador to China from 2006 to 2009.

Rao joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and has served in various world capitals, including Washington and Moscow. She served in the East Asia Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, from 1984 to 1992, including as joint secretary for East Asia.

Rao served as deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy in Moscow from 1998 to 1999. She was the Distinguished International Executive in Residence at the University of Maryland at College Park from 1999 to 2000. From 2001 to 2002, she served as the first woman spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. She headed the Administration and Personnel Division of the Ministry of External Affairs as additional secretary from 2002 to 2004. Rao was high commissioner of India to Sri Lanka from 2004 to 2006.

She was a fellow of the Centre for International Affairs (now the Weatherhead Centre) of Harvard University during 1992-93. She was in charge of press affairs as minister in the Indian Embassy in Washington from 1993 to 1995.

Rao pursued her education in India, where she was born in Malappuram in the southwestern state of Kerala. She has a B.A. degree in English from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore and an M.A. in English literature from Marathwada University in Maharashtra. — B.J. Almond