Lasting Impressions

October 18th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

The following post is from President Brodhead:

Last Day in Mumbai

Our trip ended with two days in Mumbai. This city is wholly different from Delhi, and a formula I’d often heard –Delhi is India’s Washington D. C., Mumbai is India’s New York—captures some of the difference. But of course, its character is all its own. A continual mystery of India is how a country that’s missing so much basic infrastructure can nevertheless be the booming place it obviously is. How, literally, can a place be a international business center when it takes two hours driving through zany traffic and bustling streetlife to get to town center from the airport?

I actually came to love the adventure of traffic in India, with its near misses every minute, but my favorite hour was spent on foot. Mumbai has a very beautiful old downtown, and our Duke companion Nicholas School Professor Prasad Kasibhatla, a proud hometown boy, took us on a long ramble—through modern shops and ancient reading rooms, past sandal makers and sugar cane grinders, to the great old Victorian train station. We got there about 6 p m, as an ocean of people roared past to catch a ride home at the end of the workday. First the port, then the train, and now the Iinternet have made Mumbai a superconnected place, and a scene of extraordinary vitality.

In Mumbai as in Delhi, Duke gave us access to remarkably interesting people. These people were not just “successful” in some conventional sense. They had the excited air of working at things that were inconceivable a short time ago. Tuesday we met with Dr. R. K. Pachauri, the director-general of TERI and co-recipient (along with Al Gore) of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. Dr. Pachauri and his colleagues are leading the effort to bring clean-energy power to the 400 million Indians who lack access to electricity. Wednesday we met a Duke alum figuring out how to connect farmers to a market in a country where many are hungry and food rots for lack of distribution.

Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Director-General of TERI and Duke President Richard Brodhead

Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Director-General of TERI and Duke President Richard Brodhead

One impressive example of this type was Karan Maheshwari, Trinity ’05, who I knew a little since his senior year was my first year at Duke. He has been working for McKinsey around the world and they have now sent him back home to Mumbai. His project at the moment involves public-private coalitions to eliminate slums, which always seemed an “eternal” feature of Mumbai life.

Karan accompanied me on a visit to his former school, the Cathedral and John Connor School, where we sang the praises of Duke and answered a hundred eager questions. I’m confident that some of the 11th graders we spoke to will be seen in Durham—and that Duke will continue to build friendships and partnerships in India.

Students at the Bishop and John Connon School in Mumbai

Students at the Bishop and John Connon School in Mumbai

October 17, 2008

Delhi Day 3

October 15th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

The final full day in Delhi was, indeed, a full one, starting with a visit to the futuristic headquarters of the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), whose director, Dr. R.K. Pachauri, shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year with Al Gore. TERI has emerged as one of the world’s leading centers for research and information on climate change, with more than 700 scholars and support staff. TERI University, founded in 1998, offers master’s and doctoral degrees in the environment and has built an extensive array of partner institutions around the world. Duke’s relationship with TERI goes back several years and most recently took the form of a memorandum of understanding to develop a new master of international environmental management degree with the Nicholas School.

To no one’s surprise, India faces a number of challenges at the intersection of the energy, the environment and health. TERI plays a leading role in seeking to bring sustainable energy to the large parts of India that do not already it, including the more than 400 million Indians who have no access to electricity at all (a number more than one-third greater than the entire population of the United States). Through their Lighting a Billion Lives campaign, TERI hopes to introduce solar power and clean fuel technologies to replace the burning of wood products, which contributes significantly to the country’s pollution and health problems.

Dr. Pachauri, too, has ties to North Carolina. He received his advanced degrees from North Carolina State University and spent several years on the faculty before returning to India.  During our detailed briefing on TERI’s activities in India and worldwide, Dr. Pachauri talked fondly of his time in Chapel Hill and his meetings with former Duke president and then-Senator Terry Sanford.  We look forward to welcoming Dr. Pachauri back to Duke for a lecture in the near future.

Dr. R.K. Pachauri, President Brodhead, Duke and TERI staff

Dr. R.K. Pachauri and President Brodhead with Duke and TERI staff

The TERI headquarters, a sustainable oasis in the center of New Delhi

The TERI headquarters, a sustainable oasis in the center of New Delhi

From TERI, it is was off to the residence of the U.S. Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Steven White, for a luncheon with Indian education leaders.  The DCM’s residence, a stately colonial home, was the U.S. Ambassador’s residence until the distinctive U.S. Embassy complex was built in the early 1960’s and remains a favorites of diplomats posted in India.  (Trivia watch: the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, one of the more well-known in the world, was created by Edward Durrell Stone, the modernist architect who also designed the Mary Duke Biddle Music Building on campus and the North Carolina Legislature in Raleigh.)  DCM White is a career diplomat and a UVa graduate, so we diplomatically avoided all mention of Duke’s 31-3 thrashing of the Cavs…until the waning moments of the lunch.

Guests mingle at a luncheon hosted by the U.S. Embassy

Guests mingle at a luncheon hosted by the U.S. Embassy

A New Old India

October 13th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

The following was written by President Brodhead:

Each day, a whole new India–or a new and old one. Yesterday started with an address on higher education to a group of leaders in that field, followed by an hour of lively give and take. They clearly recognize the centrality of trained intelligence to driving economic development and addressing the problems that accompany development, in health, environment and other fields. Each system has its own resources and its own challenges in adapting to these needs. I thought people were happy to learn of Duke’s thinking–and our two alums on the platform with me, Amit Mitra, Duke PhD in economics, and Shivinder Singh, Duke MBA, were outstanding ambassadors for our university. I just brag about Duke; they made it sound like the pinnacle of earthly happiness!

In afternoon, we headed south to the great modern development zone of Delhi, called Gurgaon. New Delhi is low and green, with stately boulevards and coherent architecture of a self-conscious capital city. (It was built to be the capital of British India but has functioned perfectly as capital of independent India.) Gurgaon, by contrast, is miles of gleaming modern new construction, with every multinational corporation in residence, the whole thing seeming to spring out of the ground as you watch. The New New Delhi, I call it in my mind. Then we went a little south and east onto back roads and found ourselves in fields and rural villages where little must have changed since the middle ages (except the motor scooters). You’d have to be here a lot longer than I’ll be able to stay to understand how the many Indias coexist side by side. Absolutely fascinating, every minute of this day.

Finding and Educating Global Talent

October 13th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

Charlie Soong’s journey to becoming Trinity College’s first international student started when he stowed away a steamer from China and came to the United States in search of a better life.  One hundred and fifty years later, his story of a bright, adventurous young person hungry to explore and live a life not yet imagined would be somewhat ho-hum. In his speech today at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Duke President Richard H. Brodhead discusses why international education remains essential for developing global and integrated solutions to the world’s problems and needs.  He asks the question: How is the kind of talent we require best developed?
“American universities of Duke’s type look for evidence of outstanding academic achievement, but we also look for a broader array of powers. We look for signs of leadership, engagement, creativity, and concern for others, not just the ability to do well on tests. Since we believe that interactions among people with different base assumptions make everyone more imaginative, we actively recruit top talent from every aspect of American society and now from around the world.”

To read the full text of President Brodhead’s speech at FICCI, click here.

The FICCI Show

October 13th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

It isn’t every day you see a Duke billboard on Tansen Marg in downtown New Delhi:

Billboard in front of FICCI building, New Delhi

Billboard in front of FICCI building, New Delhi

But today was Duke day at FICCI featuring President Brodhead’s appearance before more than 50 leading educators, journalists and business executives. FICCI is India’s oldest and largest business organization, with a membership of more than 1,500 individual corporations and 500 chambers of commerce. Founded in 1927 at the urging of Mahatma Gandhi, FICCI has a longstanding role in promoting higher education in India. Recent speakers have included the presidents of Stanford and Harvard, as well as the chancellor of Oxford, and the president of Yale is scheduled to visit to next month.

FICCI also has a decidedly Blue Devil tinge to it: the secretary general, Amit Mitra, received his master’s and Ph.D. in economics from Duke in the late 1970’s (and was even sporting a Fuqua School of Business tie today) and several Duke alumni and parents are members of the prestigious group. Fuqua alumnus Shivender Singh, CEO of Fortis Healthcare Limited and chairman of the FICCI health group, introduced President Brodhead for remarks and what turned out to be a spirited question and answer session:

(l to r) Amit Mitra, Richard Brodhead, Shvender Singh

(l to r) Amit Mitra, Richard Brodhead, Shivender Singh

The guests included academic leaders from business, engineering and medical schools, journalists, government officials and business leaders, and their questions reflected their intense fascination with, and appreciation for, American higher education. India’s college and university system, while large in terms of enrollment, is still evolving and is under constant pressure for funding. The participants in the roundtable were curious about American — and Duke — answers to issues such as improving primary and secondary opportunities for the least advantaged students, addressing “reservations,” the system of quotas in India that ensures that all social and economic groups are represented at the nation’s universities, encouraging civic engagement through programs like DukeEngage, distance learning, and Duke’s interest in exploring biomedical research opportunities with Indian medical schools.

In all, a spirited conversation — dialogue, really — which could have gone on much longer than the 90 minutes allotted to it.

Before concluding the meeting, Dr. Mitra (pictured here with Fuqua Associate Dean Gordon Soenksen):

reminisced about his former economics professors and told an interesting and amusing story about the visit of his mother’s guru, a long haired and bearded physicist, to the Duke Chapel. I can’t begin to do that one justice, except to say the crowd loved it.

From Durham to Delhi

October 12th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

President Brodhead on his first days in India:

The trip to India has been fantastic so far. The sense of magic started with seeing on the monitor that our plane was crossing into Kazakhstan, then Uzbekistan, then flying right over Kabul, and on to Delhi. We were lucky to have some chance to look around before the official events began. Spent some time wandering around the narrow streets of Old Delhi, with every inch abustle and accidents always seeming just about to happen, as pedestrians, handcarts, rickshaws, and motorbikes jam the lanes, but miraculously, then never do. A place at once amazingly crowded and amazingly good-natured, which we’ve found to be true pretty much everywhere.

Also had a chance for a flying trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal, as majestic as I could possibly have imagined. My favorite image from Agra: In the Red Fort, an intricate and magnificently beautiful structure that housed the Mughal rulers, we saw an Indian man in a battered Blue Devils hat. So you’re never far from home.

Duke parents and alums last evening were most gracious, and I’ve used every chance to learn about Indian business, higher education, politics, perspectives on the US, etc. By lucky chance, the recent issue of India Today has a collection of thoughtful pieces by leading Indian thinkers from a variety of sectors on future challenges and opportunities. Fascinating to be here at the time of the signing of the nuclear accord, the global market meltdown, and the introduction of legislation on foreign universities.

Dick Brodhead


October 12th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

The Duke delegation is converging on New Delhi from various points on the globe and we are preparing for a busy week. Getting here last night was the simple part — an uneventful fourteen hour nonstop flight from Newark and a rather colorful 30 minute drive from the New Delhi airport to the heart of the government district, passing landmarks like the India Gate (commemorating Indians who participated in World War I) and the awesome — in the literal sense — 340 room Presidential Palace, which was constructed as the British viceroy’s residence and, at least according to Wikipedia, remains the largest presidential palace in the world.

President Brodhead has been busy since Friday, though, starting with interviews by journalists from two of the largest magazines in India, Businessworld and India Today . We have also spent some time exploring places like Old Delhi, Embassy Row, and, for train aficionados like me and Bruce Kuniholm, the Indian Railway Museum with its collection of steam locomotives and saloon cars. Transit in the city has been by tuk tuk, the ubiquitous green three-wheeled rickshaws that perform seemingly gravity-defying feats of locomotion as they slalom between trucks, cars, pedestrians and motorcycles. As one driver pointed out, to get from one point to another in New Delhi, you need a good horn, good brakes and good luck.

We just finished a lovely dinner with some 30 Duke alumni and parents, some of whom had come in from Bangalore and Calcutta to visit. All were very excited that the university’s leadership took the time to visit the country that now sends more students to Duke than any other save China.

Here are some some pictures from the dinner at the elegant Imperial Hotel (your ace photographer was not quick enough on the draw for captions, though those will come):

Ready, set…

October 7th, 2008 by Mike Schoenfeld

Welcome to the blog of the Duke delegation’s visit to India. We’re not there yet, obviously, but over the next few days President Brodhead and his colleagues will be converging on New Delhi to carry Duke’s message to one of the largest, most vibrant countries on Earth. We’ll be offering reports, comments, pictures and, if all goes well, video of this historic trip, so be sure to check back over the next ten days. Also, be sure to look at the information we have compiled about Duke’s many current and future connections to India.

We hope to have the first reports this weekend. In the meantime, here’s the Duke Today preview of the trip:

Despite the nearly 8,000 miles between them, Duke University and India are surprisingly close — and about to get closer as Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and other university officials embark tomorrow on a visit to that nation.

The Oct. 12-16 trip will build on a number of ties between Duke and India, such as the following:

_ Nearly 300 Indian-born undergraduate and graduate students attend Duke, the most from any country except China.
_ The new Fuqua School of Business Cross-Continent program will have a hub in New Delhi.
_ Duke’s summer offerings for students include service-learning and study abroad programs in India.
_ Duke hosts vibrant Indian cultural programs on its campus, such as the annual Awaaz celebration.
¬_ Duke’s Sanford Institute has for many years worked closely with the Indian Administrative Service on professional education for civil servants.
_ Duke’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) conducted its first international program for gifted middle- and high-school students last summer in Ahmedabad and plans to expand in India in the next year.

Brodhead said the trip, the first to India by a Duke president, will help fulfill university founder James B. Duke’s vision of “harnessing the power of higher learning for the larger social good.”

“I don’t think anyone would dispute that with India’s size, its economic and political strength, and its vast pool of talented students and academics, it is a place from which we can learn a great deal,” Brodhead said. “At the same time, we are building lasting relationships that will help secure a shared future of teaching and learning with India. Duke’s strengths in business, public policy, the environment and biomedical research present a unique and compelling opportunity for collaboration with colleagues in India.”

Traveling with the president will be Blair Sheppard, dean of the Fuqua School of Business; Prasad S. Kasibhatla, associate dean for international programs at the Nicholas School of the Environment; Bruce Kuniholm, director of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy; and Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations.

Their itinerary includes stops in New Delhi and Mumbai, where Brodhead will host dinners for Duke alumni and friends. In New Delhi, the nation’s capital, Brodhead will address the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and discuss global environmental issues in a meeting with officials at the Tata Energy and Resources Institute. He will also attend a luncheon with Indian education leaders hosted by the U.S. Embassy, and meet with reporters.

The president is also scheduled to attend a dinner hosted by Malvinder Singh, CEO of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., India’s largest pharmaceutical company, and Shivinder Singh, CEO of Fortis Healthcare. The Singh brothers are graduates of the Fuqua School of Business.

In Mumbai, India’s largest city located on its west coast, the itinerary includes a dinner with Duke alumni and parents, and a luncheon with corporate leaders hosted by Duke Corporate Education. Brodhead also will address the student body of the Cathedral and John Connon School, one of the oldest and most prestigious secondary schools in India.
“I think it’s a great opportunity; it sends a great message to the Indian community and the Indian students at Duke University,” said Aneesh Kapur, co-president of Duke Diya, the South Asian Students Association at Duke. “I think this marks a significant initiative from the school, saying we’re getting great students form this part of the world and we’d like to continue to have them at Duke.”
Brodhead and others will post updates about the trip on a special blog, “A (Duke) Passage to India,” available on Duke Today and at

“Duke, like many universities in the United States recognizes that if we want to succeed globally,” Brodhead said, “we must be in India.”