Indian legislators to make June visit

After a new program began successfully last year, India’s parliament will once again return to Yale.

Yale will host the second annual conference of the India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Program in early June, welcoming approximately 15 delegates from India’s parliament to attend various lectures and discussions over the course of a week at Yale and in Washington, D.C.

As a part of Yale’s recent efforts to engage leaders from the world’s major countries, this conference represents the latest in a series of leadership development programs involving leaders from China, Japan, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates, with the first delegation from India arriving last October, Assistant Secretary of the University for International Affairs George Joseph said.

The delegates will attend lectures given by various Yale faculty members and guest speakers on a variety of topics, including the impact of the upcoming American presidential elections on U.S. foreign policy, environmental and climate change, higher education reform, the development of political and economic links between India and China, the future of U.S.-India relations, and effective leadership strategies.

Following their four days at Yale, the politicians will travel to Washington, D.C., for three days to meet with their counterparts in the U.S. Congress and with key advisors to the main presidential candidates. The Indian ambassador to the United States, Ranendra Sen, will also host a reception for the delegates.

Although the specifics of the conference have yet to be confirmed, Joseph said the overall format of the program will resemble last year’s. But this year’s conference will be shortened slightly from eight days and moved up from October to June in order to accommodate approaching elections in both India and the United States.

“Last year’s delegates unanimously expressed their satisfaction with the conference,” Joseph said. “We hope that the topics and ideas discussed in last year’s conference will have a long-term impact as the attendees go on to positions of greater leadership within their political parties and also in India.”

Nayan Chanda, director of publications at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, gave a lecture to last year’s attendees on the origins of globalization. He mentioned the need for the delegates to obtain a more international outlook.

“Because the [members of parliament] are constrained for time and resources by their legislative duties, they often are unaware of developments outside of India,” Chanda said. “The conference provides an opportunity to gain a perspective of India from the outside looking in.”

E. Annamalai, visiting professor of South Asian Studies at Yale, spoke further about the necessity of providing leadership training for politicians at the national level in India.

But Annamalai also expressed reservations about the small size and international flavor of the conference.

“Some Indian states are larger than entire countries in Europe,” Annamalai said. “But training at the state level should focus on tackling the various domestic problems specific to India, such as the difficulties posed by the caste system, rather than questions of globalization.”

Nonetheless, Yale School of Management professor Barry Nalebuff, who presented two lectures to last year’s delegates, was optimistic about the positive impact of such a conference, citing increased cross-party dialogue and joint problem-solving.

“I hope one day we can bring the program to India, but [I] am happy that we are able to bring India to Yale in the meantime,” Nalebuff said in an e-mail.

The program is sponsored by the University in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the India-U.S. Forum of Parliamentarians.

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