Remarks at India Institute of Technology Delhi
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: Swati, good morning. Thank you very, very much. Thank you very – you guys all deserve an award for being able to get here today. (Laughter.) I don’t know if you came in boats or amphibious vehicles of some kind, but I salute you for being here. Thank you very, very much for making the effort, and I am extremely honored to be here. Swati, thank you for that generous introduction. And thank you, Dr. Rao. It’s a pleasure to able to be back here. Last time I came here, I saw students who were doing fascinating work with biomaterials, the transformation into energy, part of the future. But IIT-Delhi is an extraordinary institution and it’s a pleasure for me to be able to be here. And I’m very grateful to the Observer Foundation for hosting us here today.
I’ve gotta tell you, though, it actually is a little bit intimidating to know that, because your computer science program is so competitive, some applicants who are rejected here are eagerly accepted by schools like MIT, Caltech, Princeton. (Laughter.) So I know you’ll forgive me if I left my math and science transcripts at home in Boston. I am not applying.
I have had the pleasure of traveling to this incredibly diverse and fascinating country of yours many times over the past quarter-century – as a senator and as a Secretary of State. And I have visited with students and with entrepreneurs, with business people, government leaders, religious leaders. And wherever I go, I find a robust debate and particularly I find that embrace of an ambitious vision for the future. That’s a deep characteristic, I think, a natural instinct, maybe just in the DNA of Indians.
I am reminded that perhaps the sole constant here is change – change defined by innovation in nearly every single sector and industry; change that is demanded by a hungry – and I mean intellectually hungry and lifestyle hungry – population driven by the extraordinary transformation of an emerging economy into a dynamic and diversified marketplace.
It’s really an extraordinary story. Put simply, the India that I first encountered in the early 1990s was already a regional leader and it was a regional leader of growing importance; now, it is an established power with a footprint that affects the entire planet. And whether it is efforts to preserve our environment, or uphold international norms and law, or ensure security of the global commons, in all of those Indians play a tremendous and important role.
The United States has not only welcomed this rise, but we made a strategic decision, a choice, to encourage it – because India is an essential partner in advancing our mutual interests of prosperity and security. And because we are, after all, the world’s two largest democracies, bound by common values, values of tolerance, equality, respect for religious pluralism, and a yearning for peace. And those are really important uniters. They are a bond, the glue, in and of themselves.
Now, both in Washington and here in Delhi, our leaders recognize the importance and the imperative of this relationship, which is why President Obama has made strengthening U.S.-India bonds a top priority of our rebalance to Asia, and it is why Prime Minister Modi, for his part, has called America an “indispensable partner” in his address to Congress in June, and why between the two of them it is clear that President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have forged a personal relationship that is built on a common sense of purpose and vision.
In recent years, because of this, we have nearly doubled our two-way trade flow, and the United States is now India’s top export market.
We’ve joined forces to support the people and the Government of Afghanistan; to rescue earthquake victims in Nepal; to evacuate men and women who were trapped by violence in Yemen; and to train peacekeepers in Africa. And yesterday, I had the pleasure of sharing with my counterpart, Minister Swaraj, the commonality of this endeavor that we are now engaged in.
Our peoples are connected through three million Indian Americans, many of whom have assumed leadership roles in public service, academia, medicine, law, business, from Silicon Valley to my hometown of Boston. Our universities, including IIT-Delhi, are collaborating on projects in public health, cybersecurity, high-tech, clean energy, and more.
And our governments are now engaged on more substantive issues in more vital areas than at any time in the history of this relationship.
We saw evidence of the depth and breadth of these bonds just yesterday during our annual Strategic Dialogue, when we held high-level talks on issues that impact virtually every single aspect of our shared future, from the fight against violent terrorism and extremism, to our immense and still-growing commercial relationship, to ensuring wise governance of the internet, to the resolution of volatile situations in the Middle East, South Sudan, Myanmar, and elsewhere.
And at a time when countries all too often seek to settle disputes through unilateral action or use of force, we together chose a different route. We have agreed to work through rule of law and through the norms of the international community, and so we have discussed yesterday how India’s decision to accept an international tribunal judgement regarding its maritime border with Bangladesh actually stands apart from other choices made by other countries.
So this is the kind of policy in support of rule of law that, in my judgment, reflects confidence and it reflects a sense of responsibility. It is a model for how potentially dangerous disputes in different trouble spots can be resolved peacefully, including the South China Sea, where the United States continues to call on China and the Philippines to abide by the tribunal’s recent decision, which is final and legally binding on both parties.
Now, this is a crucial opportunity to uphold the existing rules-based international order. And don’t for an instant underestimate the importance of that order. We spent enormous energy in the aftermath of World War II in order to try to build it, and it has served us well. It helped us win and end the Cold War, and it helped us set on a new course for the 21st century. And so it is important for us to respect the international order, to show respect for international law, and to support regional stability and prosperity.
The bottom line, my friends, is that the deep cooperation between India and the United States matters a great deal to both of our countries, but it also matters to the rest of the world. Obviously, for one reason, it represents one-sixth of all humanity on this planet, but also it represents the coming together of two different cultures, different experiences – one much older than the other – not as a democracy but older as a country – and certainly exhibits a kind of respect for a healthy debate and for the rights and freedom of individuals.
So the question for both of our nations and for our next generation of leaders – some of you sitting right here now – I’m sure all of you, in one respect or another, whatever walk of life you choose to move down, the great question is how to ensure that our bilateral relationship is prepared fully to confront the dangers we face and to seize the opportunities that are staring us in the face. And answering this question correctly will make all the difference because a rising India will play a critical role in resolving global challenges: challenges to the rules-based order; challenges posed by extremism and terrorism; challenges posed by extreme poverty, which I might add, for the first time in human history, has now moved below 10 percent, just to show you what can be achieved; challenges of uneven, unsustainable growth that still leaves far too many people on the margins.
This is, above all, not a theoretical exercise. It’s a practical question that, for better or worse, we – those of us in positions of responsibility certainly – have to answer every single day. And how we answer that call will have a real consequence for Indians and Americans alike.
Now let me begin with the number one responsibility of anyone in a position of leadership, and that is security and defense. In the first speech by a leader of India to the United States Congress, delivered back in 1949, Prime Minister Nehru said that “throughout her long history, India has stood for peace and every prayer that an Indian raises, ends with an invocation to peace.”
I want to assure you that the primary goal of America’s foreign policy is peace, stability, and shared prosperity. And we also appreciate that lasting peace requires strong diplomacy and deep cooperation with partners across the globe.
And I can proudly say to you today that for all of the criticism that sometimes is directed our way – because, yes, we make mistakes and we have made some, and some have been beauties – but for all of those mistakes and for all of the efforts, I can’t think of a country in the world that has conquered as much territory and turned around and given it back to people who owned it. World War I, World War II, throughout history, our effort has been as a nation to try to give life to our Constitution, to our Declaration of Independence, and to the rights of human beings, the ability of people to live in dignity, to be able to make their own choices, and to be able to show respect for other human beings.
And despite our mistakes, we continue, I think, whether it is in our work together on something like Ebola or a Zika virus, or in curing diseases, or our work to bring peace to nations in conflict, we try to make a difference to hold up those values that I’ve just described.
And the fact is that we’re living in a different world. The world of the last century that I grew up in, many of you grew up in, a world of potential nuclear conflict and a great divide between the Soviet Union and the West, a world in which our relationship got somewhat caught up by people who didn’t understand the concept of neutrality or found it somehow incompatible with their own ambitions and goals, that world has changed and gone, different.
The fact is that whereas conflict was waged between state actors, and millions upon millions of people died in the course of those wars, during this part of the century at least in the 21st century, conflict is described by non-state actors and the disruption of non-state actors, with the global system no longer divided between East and West or North and South, with power coming from the bottom up as much as from the top down. Leading nations cannot simply ignore threats beyond our borders, because in this interconnected and globalized world that we live in today, the dangers that are somewhere else are not really far away at all. Those dangers will inevitably cross borders. So we have to confront the challenges of this world together.
President Obama and Prime Minister Modi both appreciate this, so they have expanded our cooperation on mutual defense and security issues to an unprecedented level.
This starts with America’s support for India’s defense modernization. And it extends to the increasingly complex training exercises that our armies and navies conduct each year and the new logistics agreement that was just signed by our defense ministers earlier this week in Washington.
It is further evidenced in our Cyber Framework, which is focused on reducing cyber crime and encouraging responsible behavior in cyber space and trying to establish standards which people can live by with respect to cyber space.
It is defined further by our backing for India’s emergence as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean and in our efforts to help India obtain the defense capabilities and technologies that it needs in order to carry out its expanding global role. And we commit to bolster institutions that strengthen international norms in the Pacific, in the Indo-Pacific, and we will also continue to expand our coordination with nearby nations like Japan, so that this entire region can remain stable and secure.
And as we have learned the hard way – and when I say “we” I mean we collectively – the threats that we face today are not of a traditional kind of threat. They’re not what we sort of grew up with. We face adversaries who have no air force, no navy. They don’t wear uniforms. But they’re deadly, nonetheless. And chief among them are terrorist organizations such as Daesh, al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and others.
The battle to counter and defeat these extremists cannot and will not be won by one nation alone nor by any single campaign. It is a global cause requiring consistent focus and persistent action, and a willingness to adapt our tactics as the threats evolve.
And everybody knows law enforcement and nation-states to protect their people have to get it right 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. But if you decide you want to kill yourself and you want to blow yourself up and take a few people with you, you only have to get it right for 10 minutes or an hour, or maybe a day.
That’s the challenge. And that’s why it is so critical that we respond to what we both know. We both know the pain of terrorism. And to avoid repeating the tragedies that we’ve seen, our intelligence agencies now exchange information constantly. Our security personnel are learning from one another. We recently signed a special agreement to share terrorist screening data. And we are united in our efforts to dispel extremist propaganda and ties – and lies.
Now, together, we recognize that those who commit terrorist acts fundamentally have no respect for human life, certainly not for the dignity of other people. Their goal is to maim and kill and sow fear and division. In Iraq, Daesh kills Yezidis because they are Yezidis. They kill Shia because they are Shia. They kill Christians because they are Christians. And we learned long ago, certainly in World War II and the Holocaust, when we said the words “never again,” that we will not accept people killing people because of who they are or what they believe. So we must not – and we will not – allow them to succeed.
We also recognize that we must respond to this scourge not only with the full force of our militaries and our justice systems, but we must strike at the root causes of violent extremism itself. And we have to work hard to understand the different variations of the causes, because it does vary country to country, location to location, place to place, even though there are constants in those causes.
So what does that mean? It means combating and ending corruption wherever it exists, so you can rebuild trust in institutions and offer citizens an alternative to the bankrupt, dead-end ideologies that are supported by the terrorists. And make no mistake about it; a society that is governed – if you call it governing – that is run by, managed by, dominated by corruption, is a society that will frustrate people. It’s a society where the future of every citizen not given an equal opportunity is stolen from them, and that makes them a potential extremist or terrorist, ripe for the picking of recruiters.
So it means also that we have to build the bridges of tolerance and acceptance, compassion and mutual understanding among every religion and sect. And I applaud all those people who engaged in the interfaith efforts to reach out and define tolerance and also the beauty of their own religions, but in a way that is not either/or or I’ll kill you, in a way that is respectful and respectful of history.
It means offering young people hope and economic opportunity and faith in their own futures through access to education and good-paying jobs, because doing so will give them reason to help build their societies up, rather than resorting to violence that tears communities down.
And going hand in hand with this concept of corruption, I might add, is just plain old bad governance, bad governance; governance that’s more important in self-aggrandizement or in building up the party or a country; doing things at the expense of others.
As we meet this challenge, my friends, the United States and India have to keep faith in our democratic values and hold fast to the freedoms that define our countries. We have to respect the rights of all of our citizens, regardless of ethnicity, language, or creed, in order to express their views and to allow them to protest in peace, without fear of reprisal or of retribution, without the fear of being jailed for something that you say. And we have to work cooperatively and in good faith to ensure that terrorists have no place to run, no place to hide, and no place to plan and prepare for future attacks.
Now, what we cannot do is allow the terrorist threat, even as we face it, to freeze us, to intimidate us, to lock us in place somehow. That would be giving in. We can’t allow them to prevent us from building our economies and raising the quality of life for our citizens. This is the responsibility of leadership, and it falls on both the public and the private sector. And when you look at what’s happened between our countries and what can happen, I’ve got to tell you there are lots of reasons to be optimistic.
And the reasons are clear: The United States is blessed with the world’s largest economy; India blessed with the fastest-growing major market in Asia. By 2030, India will be the globe’s most populous nation, with a rising middle class of a half a billion people and a huge reservoir of entrepreneurial ingenuity and talent. I just met three folks backstage, three young gentlemen who are all engaged each of them in entrepreneurial efforts and who took part in the Entrepreneurial Summit that we held in California this year. They’re the future.
And quite literally, my friends, the sky is the limit, and it’s not just because of our close cooperation in aviation and space.
Nobody should be satisfied. Even as we know that greater connectivity helps build prosperity and strengthen regional trust, South Asia remains the least inter-connected market in the world. That’s unacceptable.
And even though we are witnessing impressive gains in India’s economic growth, there is still a real question of whether or not we are doing so quickly enough. And that comes down to some basic arithmetic: in order to just keep pace, India has to create 13 million jobs a year.
By any standards, that’s an enormous task. And to meet that goal, your entrepreneurs – like the young people trained here at IIT-Delhi – urgently need the freedom to be able to go out and pursue ideas. They need the ability to start up a new business without a lot of red tape. They need to be able to access to infrastructure that makes it easier to translate fresh concepts into successful companies.
To succeed in today’s rapidly moving marketplace, a globalized marketplace, which no politician – I don’t care how much any politician runs around and rants and raves about globalization, the bottom line is no one can put that genie back in the bottle, because it reflects what people want. People want goods that are cheaper. People want things from other countries. People want to trade. People want the ability to be able to have more information about the world and choose themselves what they use and what they discard.
And any business in today’s world has to be able to operate under conditions that attract investment capital, whether it’s foreign capital or domestic capital. And capital seeks opportunity; it seeks stability; it seeks certainty; it seeks transparency and accountability. You have to have a market that is defined by fairness and transparency. You have to have a level playing field. You have to have sensible regulations. And anybody’s bureaucracy has to become more streamlined and effective. It has to become a partner in making decisions, not an expert in setting up roadblocks. You’ve got to adopt policies – all of us do – we have to do this at home in the United States too. We have to adopt policies faster. And here you have to do it in a way that provides opportunity for all Indians – men and women, urban and rural, farmers and workers in any industry.
Now, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, as I mentioned earlier, have really forged a pretty strong understanding between them, and we are very encouraged by the steps that the prime minister is taking to build on the efforts of his predecessors. The government has passed down the goods and services tax bill and new bankruptcy laws, and made changes in foreign investment regulations, and enacted sound macroeconomic reforms. The government has pursued key initiatives like StartUp India and Digital India. And next year, India will co-host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which will help further showcase the remarkable talent of your nation’s, this nation’s, entrepreneurs.
Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that growth is not only impressive, but sustained – leading to healthy competition, more jobs, less poverty, and broad-based expansion that continues over the long haul.
At the same time, here in India and across the globe, we are focused on yet another key test – and it is a key test – and that is the fight to preserve our environment, to expand clean energy, and combat climate change. And the reason I put all three of those in the same sentence is very simple: The solution to the problem of climate change is energy policy. The choices you make about energy policy will determine whether or not we as a planet survive and overcome this hurdle that has been built because of the ways we adopted to provide power to communities over history from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution without completely understanding what the consequences of those sources were.
But now we understand. Now the science is clear. And now we have a responsibility to make the right choices. I have worked on this issue for more than a quarter of a century, and I cannot emphasize enough that the stakes could not be higher.
Every month we hear that the month was hotter than the month before and hotter than the year before. The last year was the hottest year of human history recorded, and the year before that. So that the last 10 years are the hottest decade in human history. But guess what. The 10 years before that were the hottest or the second-hottest, and the 10 years before that were the third-hottest. And you would think after three decades, 30 years of hotter, hotter, hotter, hotter, hotter, people would begin to get the message and understand the gravity of this challenge.
So for India, progress is an urgent necessity – because nearly 300 million people lack reliable access to electricity, which severely limits their ability to find a secure place in the global economy.
And for the international community, the size of India’s energy market means that how you choose to power your future will have a wide-ranging impact on the health and well-being of people everywhere, because if all it is is coal, we are all in trouble. We’ve got to move away from those fuels that provide the worst consequences of CO2, ozone, and the HFC challenge of the thousand times more destruction of the environment than CO2 itself.
And that is why we strongly support Prime Minister Modi’s plan to drive India’s economy by sharing, by increasing the share of renewable sources of power.
Now, this goal is daunting, but let me tell you something. This goal is achievable. You’re at 35 gigawatts of power today. You’ve got to go up to 175 in a short span of time. We understand the demand. But it’s beatable. But do the real cost accounting, because if you think that somehow coal is cheaper today, you’re absolutely not accounting correctly, because the health problems that come with it, the global challenges of storms and increased global climate change, the fire and problems of food – all of the attendant problems that come with it vastly outstrip in cost the cost of putting renewable alternative energy in place today.
So you have a chance – emerging engineers who are here, innovators, entrepreneurs – participate in one of the most exciting economic opportunities we have ever faced on this planet. And that is the energy transformation. Not only will you have a chance to tap into a gigantic market in the future; you will be able to preserve the environment in doing it; you will reduce pollution in doing it; you will cut health risks in doing it; you will create economic opportunity in doing it; you will raise the standard of living in doing it; and you will live up to our individual responsibility that runs deep in the culture of India of preserving the planet for future generations.
India and the United States have created a great partnership in this field, and I know it is going to make a difference. In fact, properly pursued, it could make all the difference.
For example, as a result of our recent Civil Nuclear Agreement, Westinghouse is poised to build a half dozen reactors that will provide electricity to 60 million Indians, and it is emissions-free. And with the technologies we’ve developed and the knowledge we have today, modern generation, fourth generation nuclear power – safe and something and something we can deal with far more effectively than the consequences of what happens with some of the other choices of sources of power.
Through our Partnership in the Advance Clean Energy – known as PACE – we are collaborating on smart grids, energy storage, solar, biofuels, and green buildings. And this week, we launched the PACE Fellowship program to bring mid-career professionals together with experts at our national laboratories in order to advance our shared mission of a more sustainable future.
We are also conducting joint research and development projects. We’re supporting early stage technologies and start-ups, and we’re exploring new ways to finance clean energy with private sector backing.
And as a result of our shared commitment and leadership, the United States and India were among the nearly 200 countries that came together in Paris last December to negotiate the most ambitious agreement ever reached to combat climate change.
Now let me make this clear. I don’t believe, and I don’t think most people believe, that government is going to wind up saving us from the challenge that we’ve created for ourselves. I believe the private sector is going to do it. What government can do is set the stage, create the framework, create the enticements, release the energy, help to shape the response. But in the end, some entrepreneur – maybe one of you sitting right here – is going to discover the trick for battery storage, or find a way to have a solar panel that’s even more efficient and less costly and help us turn the key that makes these changes in time.
And despite all the efforts that I have cited here this morning, I have actually barely scratched the surface of the breadth of the partnership of India and the United States today economically, diplomatically, and politically. We’re currently engaged in about 70 different initiatives that we are working on together.
Prime Minister Modi was right, he was dead on target, when he told the U.S. Congress earlier this year – I quote – that our “shared ideals and common philosophy of freedom shaped the bedrock of our ties.” But what we’ve built on top of that bedrock, my friends, is the product of the long and deep connections between our citizens.
It is the work of hundreds of thousands of American and Indian youth who study on one another’s campuses and learn from each other, just not as classmates and peers, but also as friends.
It’s the energy and the understanding that comes from the more than a million visitors who each year tour each other’s extraordinary mountains and rivers, our great cities and our fertile valleys, and our matchless cultural and historical landmarks.
It grows out of countless collaborations between our engineers, doctors, teachers, craftspersons, soldiers, and sailors.
And it emerges from the stories of individuals like the young Indian geneticist, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, who, half a century ago, right around the time IIT-Delhi reached out to a scientist from Iowa named Norman Borlaug to devise a new approach to feed India’s fast-rising population and revolutionize, and that set wheat and food production here in this country. That partnership literally changed the world.
This progress in the past forms the sturdy foundation for what we can achieve together in the future. And I hope you feel that. It is what will enable us to overcome what Prime Minister Modi called the “hesitations of history,” and we all know what he meant by that. And it will allow us to forge an even closer relationship.
It allows us to imagine a day when our navies are patrolling the seas side-by-side to secure the lanes of commerce. A day when our businesses and our universities are increasingly interconnected, and trade ties reach their full potential, and our citizens can enter and travel across both of our countries with the greatest of ease. A day when it’s the norm and the expectation for our scientists and researchers to share lab space in the hopes of eradicating disease, poverty, and hunger worldwide.
It is a day, I believe, in the not-too-distant future, if we are simply willing to put in the time and the effort to keep this relationship strong and lasting, and to do the job of nurturing it day to day to make sure that happens.
Yes, this vision is ambitious, and it should be – but it’s also achievable. Just remember what Dr. Swaminathan said. Once I think he said something to the effect that “the word ‘impossible’ exists mainly in our minds, but given the requisite will and effort, great tasks can be accomplished.”
Every one of you sitting here, whether you are a student, faculty, or private sector, you understand that because that’s exactly how you got where you are and how you know where you’re going. The fact is that this is a country with a remarkable ethnic and religious diversity, a complexity that is extraordinary. And many people thought it would have been impossible for something like that to thrive as an open democracy. A lot of people thought it was impossible to lift over 100 million people out of poverty and create the world’s largest middle class. A lot of people thought it was impossible for India to be on the cutting edge of technology and join an elite group of countries on the vanguard of space exploration.
But the beauty of India and the United States is our history of making the impossible a reality. And I believe that, for our two nations, the possibilities are limitless.
So thank you for letting me share a few thoughts with you today. I look forward to what America and India can achieve together in the long run. Thank you. (Applause.)
So first of all the rules. The rules – I will start the conversation, maybe with a question or a question and a half, and then all of you are welcome to join and raise your hands, and somebody will come to you with a microphone. I will tell you a secret; I know there are many journalists here. I’ve been told not to give you any questions. (Laughter.) That’s not true. That’s not true, but I would prefer question from students because that’s what the Secretary would prefer, and journalists get their chances anyway.
So please feel free, ask just about anything, and please keep them very short because we have limited time. The shorter your questions, the longer the answer we can expect to get, and we can get more questions in.
Now, I don’t have to summarize the Secretary’s talk. Thank you very much for coming to IIT in my neighborhood, which is not a coincidence, because I think they figured that that I was the best person to ask to come to this because the Americans knew the weather, right? (Laughter.) Which means I could walk across if I needed to, because I live in a neighborhood where the --
SECRETARY KERRY: I knew I’d have an audience of one. (Laughter.)
MR GUPTA: I live in a neighborhood where the barber shop offers a 20 percent discount to IIT students. Not much use to me anyway. (Laughter and applause.) So thank you very much for being here.
You talked about many things that we worry about, and many people worry about (inaudible). You also talked about mistakes that U.S. made and you said some of the mistakes have been beauties. So the big concern which should be a shared concern between America and India, how much do you worry about the most beauteous of all beautiful mistakes that America might (inaudible) this year by electing Donald Trump? (Laughter and applause.)
SECRETARY KERRY: And if you think that – I did not set that up. I will tell you. (Laughter.) I didn’t do that. I’m not involved in politics. I can’t comment on the election, so I can’t – no election questions, folks. (Laughter.) You have to rely on the good judgment of the American people, period. (Laughter.)
MR GUPTA: I knew you will say that, but America’s internal affairs are now everybody’s internal affairs – (laughter) – because irrespective of who wins --
SECRETARY KERRY: And when I ran for president, I wish that everybody could have voted. (Laughter.)
MR GUPTA: I think we should ask again to vote. This time we’ll be better off. But irrespective of who wins, we need to worry about the fact that this time the polarization has influenced and persuaded so many Americans, because this is now spreading all over the world. All (inaudible) are getting polarized. (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, polarization anywhere is not good. And the world, there’s too much polarization in too many places in the world. There’s no question about it. Polarization that is the opposite of everything I just talked about. It reflects intolerance. It reflects a frustration with governance. And in fairness, and the one comment I will make is, as a member of Congress and I have seen the transition in the Congress in the last years, is that there are a lot of people in the United States even who, as in other countries, are angry because they don’t see governance moving fast enough to deal with many of the problems that exist in the world.
And so it’s not a unique thing to us at all. This is our normal basis. You’re seeing governance challenged and people are demanding, and it’s understandable. In the age of information, when people have quicker and more access instantaneously to everything going on, there’s a double – there’s more probably even than a double edge. But it’s a challenge, because for one thing I think there’s much more information than an awful lot of people can process. Secondly, a lot of it is not that valuable and important information; it’s just sort of whatever, the amount of texting and amount of time taken to manage your smartphone these days, you ought to stop and question the productivity level of all of that. In many cases it increases it, but in a lot of cases it moves in the opposite direction.
And the other side is that we need – all of us – to think about how we’re going to deliver services and decisions to people faster and more effectively. And everybody can improve on the way we are doing these things. So it’s a big challenge.
MR GUPTA: Are you worried about the way American mind has shifted, American mind has moved? Because a lot of the world takes its cue from that.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m not sure which way you’re saying it’s shifted. (Laughter.) Again, I don’t want to get in – I just don’t want to get into a road that begins to be interpreted as my commenting on the politics of the country right now.
I think what is happening is a very open debate. There are no words being hidden. Everybody is seeing what each person is saying. It’s a pretty unvarnished, all-out slugfest in open – and for everybody to make judgments about. And there’s something – in the end, I’d rather see that than what I see in some countries, where if somebody said half of what you’ve said in America you’d be in jail or thrown out or – so America – our politics historically have always been pretty rough and tumble. And you can go back to the late 1800s, go back and look at the earliest races of Adams and Jefferson and through history, and look at what they called each other and look at what was printed and look at what was written.
So it can be tough and rough. The key is to have the tolerance to be able to work through it and not allow it to become polarizing, but have a healthy debate about it. And that’s what I think we’re trying to do, and we’ll see what happens.
MR GUPTA: Well, I wish I could have said that (inaudible) must change that, but I can’t. I can’t (inaudible) in the morning (inaudible).
SECRETARY KERRY: You mean you can lie in the afternoon? (Laughter.) Sorry about that. (Laughter.)
MR GUPTA: But we (inaudible).
QUESTION: Mr. Kerry, my question was – with the ongoing (inaudible) conflict in the South China Sea, so how can we see that the U.S.’s turn to Asia and India’s Act East Policy policies (inaudible) because both are (inaudible).
SECRETARY KERRY: What was the first part of the question? I couldn’t hear you. Hold the microphone – it gets a little distorted when it comes --
QUESTION: So my question was – with the – recently there’s been (inaudible) and conflict in the South China Sea in the Asia Pacific region, so both U.S. and India (inaudible) so how can we cooperate to progress on that together?
SECRETARY KERRY: Good question. Well, we are cooperating. We’re cooperating in the Bay of Bengal. We’re cooperating in our approach to the tribunal and our recognition of rule of law with respect to the South China Sea. We both understand that that decision is legally binding and the final decision. But we’re also both interested not in fanning the flames of conflict, but rather trying to encourage the parties to resolve their disputes and claims through the legal process and through diplomacy. So I think we both are engaged in encouraging people to sit down to negotiate and try to reduce the tensions, because nobody is benefitted by those tensions. And I hope that that’s what can happen in the aftermath of the arbitration decision.
But we’re cooperating in the defense agreement that we just signed in Washington, the trade in goods that we are engaged in with you to try to help you modernize some of your capacities within the military, the exercises that we join into. All of this is the result of the last few years of increased engagement between our countries. And I think, again, in the spirit of – in the spirit of the candor with which we should talk here in a university particularly, but anyway, I like to try to engage in this discussion all the time.
There was a period that I can remember, and I came here in the 1990s and I remember giving a speech at the time about nuclear policy. And we were discussing whether or not we might engage in cooperation in nuclear, and even before that. And I remember meeting with then – later to become Prime Minister Singh, but he was then the finance minister. And we were talking about economic reforms, and this was before the economic reforms (inaudible) in India.
So my history here goes back to a time when I can still remember the overhang of the Cold War and the tensions that existed because of India’s policy of neutrality and the United States’ sense that that was somehow walking away from us and from interests that we should share in common. And that overhang created mutual suspicion for a period of time and it got in the way. That’s what the prime minister was referring to in his speech about the histories.
So I must tell you that the conversation we had yesterday with your officials was completely devoid of any residual impact and that kind of attitude or sense. There wasn’t even a remote feeling of it that somebody was hiding it or pushing it aside. We have moved beyond that, way beyond that. And that, I think, is a very, very important benchmark with respect to the relationship that we can now develop going forward in these 70 different initiatives, 40 different task forces, that are working together between our countries. And out of the research that we do between our universities, out of our exchange students and so forth, will come a deeper and deeper understanding, but also, I hope, some new partnerships and entrepreneurial activity in solutions to problems that we face.
MR GUPTA: Also just mention your name and what you do, what class you are in.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. I am Dateeka Deshwal (ph) from Delhi University and (inaudible) Ph.D. from here. (Inaudible.) Sir, I want to ask one question from you: What are the ways to enforce Pakistan to (inaudible) terrorism in India, Balochistan, and Afghanistan, and how will we can amicably resolve this with the help of India and America?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re working on it. It’s a very good question. And I’ve been working on this issue very hard for the – during the time that I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee as well as now as Secretary of State. And I have had many conversations and engagements with the president of Pakistan, not just – and the prime minister, with the prime minister now particularly. We have been talking about how to focus on the sanctuaries in the western part of the country, how to deal more effectively with the Haqqani Network, deal with Lashkar-e Tayyiba, deal with a hedge policy with respect to Afghanistan, and vice versa.
We’ve also talked to Afghanistan. And President Ghani has been very bold and reached out, gone to visit, to have conversations. And I must credit also Prime Minister Modi extended an invitation, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came here for the inauguration and communications.
So that’s the way to begin the process. You’ve got to work at it. And it is clear that Pakistan has work to do in order to push harder against its indigenous groups that are engaged in extremist terrorist activities. And they must work with us – and we’ve made this very clear – to help clear the sanctuaries of bad actors who are affecting not only the relationship between Pakistan and India, but also our ability to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Now, in fairness, the Pakistanis have suffered greatly from this terrorism in their own country. More than 50,000 people have been killed. And when they do take actions, there’s usually a pretty intense pushback, a blowback, which raises the cost of doing this and makes it harder.
So all of us need to be supportive and also understanding of how difficult it is to take it on step by step. I believe in the last months, progress is being made and the Pakistanis are moving at a greater pace, and we all need to work hard to try to help each other to be able to get rid of this problem of these non-state actor disrupters who are the greatest challenge to the security of all of us in the world today.
MR GUPTA: Aniba (ph).
QUESTION: Thank you so much. My name is (inaudible). I’m a research fellow at Indian Council of World Affairs. I have two questions for you, sir. The first is you said that we have moved past our histories and we’ve gotten over our differences. I just wanted to know from you are there any particular areas in which the U.S. feels that India is not helping out or is not coming up to the mark (inaudible) are there any areas where you feel frustrated that we’re not cooperating well?
And my second question is – so you’re coming from Russia --
MR GUPTA: One question per (inaudible).
QUESTION: Sorry, okay.
SECRETARY KERRY: I’m not actually – me? I’m coming from Russia?
QUESTION: I just wanted to know on (inaudible) and your Russian counterpart.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it was a good dialogue. (Laughter.) And I am very hopeful, very hopeful, that if we can resolve a couple of other issues in some discussions that are actually taking place today, we have a chance at being able to advance the cessation of hostilities and change the dynamics in certain ways in Syria. I’m not going to go into them today. I’m not going to talk about it in detail. We want to make sure that we’ve done the homework and we’ve got the pieces lined up if we – if we say something. But I’m hopefully – I’m hopeful.
With respect to India, we’re working so positively on so many things that it’s really hard to find something that would say, well, India isn’t engaged or moving. I think there are two things I would mention where I can hope India really will move faster, would be able to move faster. It’s not that they’re not trying. It’s just I would love to see it be able to move faster.
One is in the move away from coal, to be able to change the mix of energy. And unfortunately, India right now is the only country in the world that will be increasing coal use, not decreasing it, because of the current energy challenge you face. Now, in fairness, again, your minister is very capable, extremely thoughtful, very seized by this challenge. He doesn’t want to be increasing, but he finds that the cost of some of the alternatives is very difficult, and that’s a burden that falls on us. We need to help and we will help with the world to try to help with the capital costs so that people can make better choices. And we need to work at this together.
And the second thing is the regulatory structure, the overall ability to move decisions and move the process, is clearly an internal challenge. We all face it. We face it in the United States. Bureaucracies are a challenge to all governments everywhere, and I would hope that India would take that battle on as we are also, because we have a common interest in trying to be able to move faster to deal with the challenges and makes the decisions we need to make.
MR GUPTA: You have the microphone. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Sir, I am (inaudible). So first of all, it’s really a pleasure (inaudible) question. It’s related to the balance of power in this (inaudible). So what is happening is – it is related to the issue in the South China Sea. Now, I’ve heard you say that diplomacy and talks only work when nations (inaudible). So after the decision passed by the international court and China (inaudible) rejecting it, and since they don’t want to (inaudible) any diplomacy, any dialogue, what do you propose that the U.S. would actually go ahead, and are you in the favor of any sort of (inaudible) or not, because China is constantly trying to get power of that – power over that (inaudible).
And just a related question (inaudible), is there a way for India to get a seat in the Security Council in the UN (inaudible)?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, there’s a way, but it’s complicated. (Laughter.) And we’re working on it. We’ve been supportive, obviously, and we’re – we are supportive of some reform. But it’s going to take a while and then we’re going to have to work through that.
China did reject the process publicly, yes. But China has also said that it would like to see a bilateral negotiation or a negotiated resolution, and has indicated a willingness to engage. I think the Philippines sent an emissary to China to talk about the issue recently, and I was in China recently. We talked about it. And they indicated that they’re prepared to sit down and have these negotiations.
Now, in addition, I don’t – there’s no military solution to this. The United States and other countries are united in an alliance that respects freedom of navigation, the norms and standards of the Law of the Sea, and the rule of law with respect to access to the high seas and to the oceans. And I think that we’ve made it very, very clear that we have a primary interest that’s different. We’re not claiming. We’re not a claimant. We don’t have core interests with respect to any of – borders or territorial claims and land, and we don’t claim anything. And we haven’t taken a position on anybody’s claim.
We want to support a code of conduct for the management of the South China Sea. We support diplomacy in an effort to try to resolve this with an understanding that there really is no, quote, “military solution.” But on the other hand, we will stand up for our rights and we will stand with our allies, particularly where we have a defense agreement, in protecting that agreement and in protecting the rights of other nations with respect to their freedom of navigation and the legitimacy of a process under rule of law for the resolution of legitimate claims.
MR GUPTA: You have the microphone.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) I am (inaudible) student here in Delhi and my question to you is – well, recently, actually this week, I read that you have visited 88 countries and that you’ve logged the most air miles out of any U.S. secretary of state. (Laughter.) So I wanted to ask what was the most significant or moving experiences or things that you might have witnessed.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s a wonderful question. And I appreciate you for telling me how many countries I’ve been to, because I didn’t know. (Laughter.) I honestly am not counting countries, or miles for that matter. We’re going where we think we need to go when we need to go and trying to make things happen.
It happens to be an extraordinarily challenging moment on this planet. We are seeing the – and this is – by the way, this has to be the last question after this. I’m sorry about that, but we’re running into a time crunch. But let me just – I want to take your question and just share a couple of thoughts with you if I can in general as I answer, and I will answer.
The world is moving in a profoundly transformative way because of a lot of things. Technology for instance, is just phenomenal the way it is affecting lives. It is a huge benefit but also a disrupter in terms of economies and lifestyles. And so suddenly, many things have changed because of it. The work that people do, the kind of work, how many people are needed to do certain kinds of work – all affected by robotics, artificial intelligence, machines. And so there are huge benefits from technology because we’re also curing diseases, producing new materials to build housing, advancing different sources of energy. I mean, I can run a long list of the upside benefits.
But it also moves change at a pace that different places have difficulties keeping up with. In many places there is a clash of culture, of religion, of local mores with modernity itself. And different people react differently to that. In some places people exploit it, and they exploit it with lies and distortions. Witness what you see as people find a great religion, Islam, in a way that doesn’t reflect that religion. They steal it, they hijack it. And you can do that. Lies can move around the world in a nanosecond. Just tweet it, and boom – everybody’s got a new fact that’s not a fact at all. (Laughter.) And unfortunately, we’re living in a world where even science is getting pushed aside at times and not properly and adequately respected. And there’s a famous saying – I think it was President John Adams who said, “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”
So this transformation is carrying with it many challenges. And the multiplicity of the media – I mean, look up there. There’s an array of cameras up there which have an ability to transmit all over the world in different ways, and people will take from these things many times what they want to.
And so governing is harder. It is harder today to build consensus around an issue than it used to be. When I was growing up in America, back in the time when we actually had to hide under our desks to practice surviving a nuclear war – I mean, that’s what we did in school. But we also had only three major – four major television stations in the United States. So when I was a college student, the President of the United States, somebody from the press office would call the media, one or two networks, and say, “The President wants to talk to the nation tonight.” They’d block out a half-hour, and that was it. Everybody watched it. Because you had ABC, CBS, and NBC, and public television – I think, if I’m correct.
And so the next day at work, everybody would go to work and would be talking around the water cooler or coffee station or – Boy, did you hear what the President said last night? What do you think about what’s happening in Vietnam, or what’s happening here or whatever? You’d have a conversation about it. That doesn’t happen today. If a president wants to talk to the nation, he or she has to go out and fight to find all kinds of different venues, which is why the President of the United States goes on The View and goes on David Letterman and goes on the night show and goes on whatever – in order to be able to talk to people in segments. And it takes a lot longer to build it up, and you still have trouble getting people to be able assimilate and process facts.
So governing is harder. And it’s true everywhere that governing is harder. And so we – when you say to me, what I have seen, I’ve seen this remarkable transformation taking place around the world.
Now, I see the glass half-full, I really do – not because I’m Secretary of State and I’m sitting in front of you and it’d be a nice thing for me to make you feel good. I see it half-full. I see incredible, positive changes taking place – hundreds of millions of people being brought in from poverty into a rising, but maybe not quite middle class yet, but rising into middle class; more and more people traveling around the world, more and more students studying in other countries and coming back to their nations and bringing different views; diseases being cured.
We are on the brink of being able to have the first generation in Africa born free of AIDS because of what we have done with the PEPFAR and with our research and efforts to build health capacity. Look at what we did with Ebola. It was predicted that a million people were going to die by Christmas of last year. But no – nations came together, including India and China and Japan and others – France, Britain – and we worked together, and that never happened. We managed to curb the disease.
You look at what we’re doing countering terrorism around the world today. It may not seem that way because we see a suicide vest explosion and we see 80 people killed, or 100 killed in an event. But the fact is that we are living in a century in which far, far fewer people are being killed in violence and in war than were killed in the last century. And just think about that. Russia alone lost 30 million people in the course of World War II, and you look at 6 million Jews cruelly exterminated in the course of the Holocaust, and you run – there’s massive numbers of deaths. World War I – an entire generation lost in Europe and so forth.
So we have to look at this and say we’re making progress. We understand what infrastructure can do. We understand how we, if we make the right choices, can build ways for people to get from here to there faster and better and easier and more comfortably. We can sell goods all over the world. It is changing. And the truth is there are still tens of millions of people, hundreds of millions of people to be brought in from poverty, houses to be built, hospitals to be built, doctors to be created, unbelievable amounts of construction to build the infrastructure that brings Africa and South Asia and Asia and various parts of the world into modernity. And as we do that, if we do it in a context of freedom of choice and greater education and people being able to make choices for themselves and have the freedom to govern and governance gets better, believe me, we’re going to solve these problems.
So I see things moving in that direction despite the hurdles and the problems and the challenges along the way. And nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but we’re making progress, no question in my mind. And I’ve seen – you ask me what are the most – some of the most moving things I’ve seen are kids in a refugee camp in Jordan who are refugees from Syria sitting at a desk, given a computer, working at that computer, struggling and saying, “I want to be a doctor,” and being able to say that without ever having been inside of a hospital or seeing anything that remotely (inaudible) – dreams being lived out. That’s what life is about. And I think if we continue to work together to adhere to our fundamental values and principles and keep driving in that direction, the basic human spirit is a spirit that has survival built into it, but also has this capacity to dream. And India and the United States are blessed to have a huge sharing of that dream.
And so I think we just keep working and moving in the same direction and stay optimistic and stay on track and we’re going to get where we want to go. All right? Thank you all very, very much. Great to be with you. (Applause.)
MR GUPTA: (Inaudible) piece of paper saying we can allow one more question if you can.
MR GUPTA: That’s it?
SECRETARY KERRY: I apologize. I hate to do that, folks, but unfortunately I have a schedule.
MR GUPTA: You go ahead. We’ll not allow any more questions, but I’ll ask a concluding question, which is my position here. (Laughter.) You mentioned – you mentioned the need for nations to deal with the dangers away from their shores. What will we do when our dangers are not away from our shores, but next door to us, and the two organizations you’ve named with al-Qaida and Daesh (inaudible) terrorist organizations. When their chiefs hold press conferences, appear on TV discussions every evening in Pakistan, irritation and anger that it causes in India – how do we deal with that?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, you deal with that – you deal with that by providing a better alternative. And I’m not kidding about that. Keep showing what your society can do, keep building, keep growing, keep educating, keep doing the things that you’re doing – because their philosophy is totally nihilistic, empty, devoid of any hope. Have you ever heard them talk about – they want to shut schools, not open them. They want to not allow you to think, not invite you to think. So this is not that hard. You just got to go out there and do the things I talked about about making your society work better, move your economy, do your regulatory reforms, make things happen, and so help me, you’ll provide the alternative. And any young person, as – there are masses of young people in the world who need education, and if we will focus on the people who need the education and provide opportunity and make our economies work to their full potential, these people will become the detritus of history. And that’s what we have to make them. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR GUPTA: Thank you very much.