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October 21, 2002

Halle Distinguished Fellow Ramesh to share expertise on India

By Lailee Mendelson

Jairam Ramesh, a prominent Indian political analyst, is visiting campus this semester as the Halle Institute for Global Learning’s fall 2002 Distinguished Fellow. In several meetings with students and staff, Ramesh will address India’s changing society, dynamic economy and nuclear-charged relations with China.

Ramesh currently is secretary of economic affairs of the opposition Congress Party in New Delhi and a columnist for India Today and the Times of India. In the 1990s, he made major contributions to India’s economic reforms and has served in the Indian Planning Commission, Ministry of Industry and other economic departments of the Indian central government.

Marion Creekmore, interim director of the Halle Institute and a former U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka, said Ramesh will offer vital insights on many timely issues, including the thorny, triangular relationship between India, Pakistan and China.

“India and China are two of the world’s oldest civilizations and—with both possessing nuclear weapons—will be important powers in the international system of the 21st century,” Creekmore said. “They also have individual, special relationships with Pakistan, another nuclear power. These are interactions of great significance for world peace.”

In his four public lectures at Emory, Ramesh will address India’s efforts to accommodate its traditional, largely rural society to the modernizing influences of globalization, as well as its struggles to find a way for a vastly heterogeneous population, which includes at least seven religions and 18 official languages, to live peacefully within the world’s largest democracy.

“India is in the midst of three fundamental transformations,” Ramesh said. “Economic globalization, political decentralization and social empowerment, where political power is shifting from narrow elites to more preponderant but long- disadvantaged communities and groups.”

Ramesh will provide special insight into the economic reforms of the early 1990s, which shifted India’s centrally planned economy to an essentially market-driven one. The effect, he said, has been to raise the average annual growth rate to 6 percent during the last decade, nearly double what it had been in the 40 years previous.

“This is a major feat,” Ramesh said, “which has occurred within an entirely democratic framework. The dynamics of these transformations are of great interest because of the scale on which they are taking place and because they are taking place in the context of basic values long cherished by the United States: democracy, diversity and development.”

Each year, the Halle Distinguished Fellow program invites at least one international personality to the Emory campus for several weeks of intensive interaction with faculty, students and staff, both at Emory and other area institutions, as well as with political and business leaders throughout Atlanta. Ramesh was invited to be this year’s fellow after he briefed the Halle Faculty Study Trip delegation to India last January.

All public lectures will be held at the Halle Institute for Global Learning, room G-150
in Gambrell Hall, from 4:30– 6 p.m. Dates and subjects include:

Monday, Oct. 21: “The Indian Economy Today”

Wednesday, Oct. 23: “Indian Society in Flux”

Friday, Oct. 25: “Indian History in a Contemporary Context”

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