Townterview with NDTV's Barkha Dutt on "We The People"
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateLa Martiniere School for GirlsKolkata, IndiaMay 7, 2012
MS. DUTT: Good morning, everybody. Good morning ladies and gentlemen of Kolkata, but especially good morning to all the young students and the young voices of Kolkata who are here this morning to listen to a very, very exciting and important guest. Our guest this morning seems to, when she is not in Washington, D.C., be living in an airplane. And I’m not joking. Do you know how many miles she’s clocked up since she took over as Secretary of State in 2009? Any guesses, guys? I bet you can’t guess. More than 700,000 miles. Actually, I think somebody there got it almost right. That worked out – oh, that’s somebody on the staff. That’s cheating right? (Laughter.) That’s cheating, guys.
Alright. More than 700,000 miles and 95 countries works out to about 25 trips around the globe. And yet not once does she show signs of any flagging energy. In fact, as she arrives in India making Kolkata her first stop, she has just completed two very important visits to two other countries: China first, then Bangladesh; and now, of course, here in India as an old friend.
She is one of the most influential women anywhere in the world, and in fact a Gallup poll in the United States of America has consistently called her the most admired woman in the United States of America for more than decade. And I know how excited we are as Indians to welcome her to our country today, and of course the people of Kolkata to welcome her to her first stop in India, which is Kolkata. We are going to be having a very exciting conversation this morning, and it is my privilege and honor to welcome to India and to the stage Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Let’s have a huge round of applause. (Applause.)
Welcome. It is so good to see you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. It is so wonderful to be here with all of you, and I want to thank Barkha Dutt for agreeing to moderate our discussion and everyone at NDTV and at La Martiniere. This is very exciting for me to have this chance to be back in this vibrant city after a number of years. I was last here in 1997 honoring the life and work of Mother Teresa. And I am thrilled to see all of the dynamism and how much both Kolkata and West Bengal have thrived.
So here we are in the economic and innovation hub of Eastern India, and I just want to make a few comments before we have a chance for a conversation. I wanted to do this, because certainly for me, the work that I do every single day, the miles that I fly, are about trying to see what all of us together can be doing to bring peace and prosperity to the world, because most of the world’s population are young people. That’s true in India, but it’s true in most places in the East, and particularly in Asia and South and East Asia.
So it’s truly about what you want for your futures. And the relationship between our two great democracies is one that is going to help determine the kind of future that we have. As President Obama told the Indian parliament, the relationship between India and the United States will be one of those defining partnerships of the 21st century. Why? Because we are united by bedrock beliefs about freedom, democracy, pluralism, and opportunity.
And also our economies are increasingly interdependent. When I first visited India in 1995, trade between our countries was about $9 billion. Well, today it’s more than $100 billion. And that makes a difference in the lives of people in both countries. I was talking with some friends here last night, and they were referencing the jobs and opportunities created by the Pepsi-Frito Lay plant here, and how it’s not only for the people who work in the plant but for all the farmers whose incomes are going up because they have guaranteed contracts for their products.
So there’s a lot of progress, but we always think that more can be made to reduce barriers, open markets to greater trade and investment, economic reforms from manufacturing to retail, can spark growth, create jobs, and lower prices for consumers in both countries.
Increasingly also, our strategic interests are aligned. India is a regional and increasingly global power, recognized with its economic, diplomatic, and military influence. And India is taking on more responsibilities, which is good news because the international community cannot solve our shared problems, such as nuclear proliferation or climate change, unless we are all working together and unless the leading countries are taking the steps necessary for solutions.
I think here in Kolkata, you’ve always been at the forefront of India’s engagement with the world. I know the city is sometimes called the Gateway to the East. And increasingly, India’s look-east policy will be essential for the growth of India, but even more importantly for the entire integration of the Asia Pacific region.
I’ve just come from Bangladesh, where there is a great hope and excitement about increasing trade and economic opportunities with India, with Burma, with the markets of Southeast Asia. I think because of India’s democracy, India stands in a strong position to help the people of Burma as they navigate their way forward both with economic and political reforms.
Prior to that, I was in China, where we are building a constructive relationship not only bilaterally but among our three countries. In fact, the trilateral consultation between China, India, and the United States will be essential for us in the future as well.
But really, the heart of our relationship is the people-to-people relationship, the thousands and thousands of visits every year, the incredible contributions of Indian Americans in my country in every walk of life, increasingly in the political realm. And I checked the statistics. In 2011, 35 percent of all the L1 work visas that the United States issued in the entire world were issued to Indians. And between 2010 and 2011, we saw an increase in 24 percent in H1B work visas. And more than 100,000 Indian students are currently studying in the United States. So there are so many links between us, and we want to promote even more between the young people of our two countries.
I think it’s appropriate to quote from Tagore. People always quote from Tagore in not only West Bengal but in many other places as well. I discovered him when I was in college and have been a fan ever since. And one of the quotes that I liked when I was your age and I like now that I’m my age is, “Age considers, youth ventures.” So since India is home to more than 400 million young people, a remarkable generation – innovative, entrepreneurial, tolerant, connected to each other – we’re hoping you will venture, that you will venture on behalf of not only your own futures but the future of this great country, and that you’ll venture to make the partnership between the United States and India stronger. Under my direction, we are starting youth councils in all of our embassies and our consulates around the world. Here in Kolkata, we have a particularly active group and we would love to have even more people involved.
So with that, I’m looking forward to the conversation, and I think it’s fair to say that I have probably been asked nearly everything in my long life and public life, so just please feel free with Barkha’s lead to have a real conversation for the time we’re together. Thank you all. (Applause.)
MS. DUTT: All right. Just before we get the ball rolling, we’ll just get the podium off stage and we’ll get the Secretary all miked up. But it was interesting to hear her say that she’s probably been asked every question that’s possible. So are we going to surprise her today? We are, right? (Laughter.) She’s going to walk away with some question that she’s never been asked before.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I should never have done that. (Laughter.) What a challenge. That’s a woman who loves a challenges. (Laughter.)
MS. DUTT: Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for your remarks and welcome to India and to Kolkata once again. And before we set the ball rolling today, I’ve got to share with you something that somebody from the state actually characterized us Indians as – economist and Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen, he said that there’s one definition that fits Indians, and that is: “Argumentative Indians.” (Laughter.) And Indians are argumentative, but my god, Bengalis – (laughter) – are very argumentative and very opinionated, right? (Applause.)
So I hope you’re ready for the questions and the volleys that are coming your way. But before we start the conversation this morning, I want to draw your attention, the attention of our audience here, and the attention of our viewers to something that we forget: Even though you have had a long relationship with India – now 17 years, sometimes we forget that it was not in fact your husband, Bill Clinton, as President who came to India first, but you as first lady.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MS. DUTT: And I’m going to show you a picture, and the audience can see it on their screens. And that’s you in 1995 with Chelsea in front of the Taj Mahal, an extraordinary picture there. Chelsea was just 15 then, just a 15-year-old kid with her mom at the Taj Mahal. And you always reached out, not just to politicians but to civil society groups. There you are in ’95 with Ela Bhatt, the founder of SEWA. On that trip, you learned how to dye rags. I’m going to ask you how often you did that after you left.
Dyeing rags and block printing – that was Secretary Clinton’s first trip in Kolkata, a long association with somebody we love, miss, and admire, Mother Teresa. Your first visit here in a little bit of tragic circumstances at the funeral and the tribute to Mother Teresa. That was 1997 when you were here first. On a happier occasion, today, of course, in 2012. A long relationship across political dispensations that’s Prime Minister Vajpayee at the White House; Sonia Gandhi whom you’ve known over the years – (inaudible) that great photograph, I love that photograph; Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj. You’ve made friends across different political parties. You like shaking a leg, don’t you? (Laughter.) You make the point to do that in every trip.
But here’s the thing, as you (inaudible) and say goodbye to us, there’s one thing you always say: Every Indian meal that’s coming up leaves you on a diet of carrots and celery for the next many weeks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s very true. (Laughter.)
MS. DUTT: So that was a flashback. But I’ve got to ask you, because we’re hoping you managed to duck into a hearty Indian meal, how many carrots and celeries coming up in the next few weeks?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I leave here and I go to Delhi, so by the time I get home, I think it’ll probably be at least a week of celery and carrots, don’t you think? And we – my husband and I have just such a great personal affection for India – maybe because we’re a little argumentative ourselves from time to time, but also the extraordinary dynamism and just the thrill of being in the country.
Now, it’s a little difficult actually getting out and around as a first lady or as a Secretary of State, but we’ve really tried to break through the official boundaries. So yesterday, for example, I met with these extraordinary young women who’ve been rescued from the sex trade and who are being worked with by a variety of organizations here in West Bengal. And just to have a chance to hear the stories and talk to them about their lives helps to put the work that I do on the official level into a broader perspective, because for me it’s really about whether or not at the end of the day those of us in these positions have made life better for people or not.
Certainly, we can have a great experience personally traveling and visiting and meeting people, but that’s not why I do this work. And I think most people who care about their own country, or even more broadly global possibilities, knows that there’s a lot of anxiety and insecurity about what direction the world is going in in many places and uncertainty about what the economy is going to be like. And so I think we have an obligation to do as much as we can in the time we have to serve.
MS. DUTT: Now, you’ve made it a point, and I think those pictures told their own story, to step out of the formality of protocol, to meet all sorts of different people, to go to all sorts of different parts of India. But I know a lot of people have been asking me: Why Kolkata? Why Kolkata before Delhi?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, because I was in Chennai the last time I was here. That’s where the dancing pictures were, just an amazing experience we had there. And coming from China to Bangladesh, it seemed very appropriate to stop right here in Kolkata. The economic potential of East India is so great, but also the geopolitical significance of this part of India is increasingly recognized.
When you think about the potential for greater trade and economic integration going east, the markets that would be open for West Bengal by greater trade with not only Bangladesh but on to Burma, dealing with the issues of water and energy that affect the entire region – all of this, to me, is significant, and the United States wants to be a partner with the entire country. And therefore coming here, meeting people, having this opportunity, seeing the chief minister, is a way of demonstrating our commitment to that future.
MS. DUTT: Now, it’s interesting, you of course being named by Gallup and poll after poll as the most admired woman in the United States of America. But as you meet with Mamata Banerjee, one can’t help but look at the symbolism of these two very different women, but two very formidable women coming together.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well --
MS. DUTT: I’m a bit of a (inaudible), you know that. You’re not going to pretend that you’re not formidable.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think of myself that way, but apparently there are some who do – (laughter) – which sometimes is an advantage, sometimes a disadvantage. I think it’s a great tribute to India that the entire political development of this country at the national and the local, and now increasingly even at the state level with all of the elections, is demonstrating the equality and empowerment that is at the core of the Indian dream.
I mean, this is a country that has embraced democracy, which by definition is endowing individuals with their rights and which has made enormous progress. And women have been at the forefront of that progress. So I’m always happy to meet with another woman leader. And having been in politics myself for eight years as a senator from New York, I know how difficult it is for women to be elected anywhere. This is still a challenging experience and a double standard: You just are judged differently; you’re held to a different standard. We all know that.
So when I meet a woman who’s broken through those barriers, whatever society she’s coming from, whatever her background, and even whatever her political beliefs – because some women in public office I agree with on their policies, other women I have disagreements with – but we share a common bond, if you will, of having gone through the fire of electoral politics in very contentious political systems, which both of our countries have.
MS. DUTT: And isn’t it true, as you said, that there’s an entirely different kind of scrutiny on women in public life? And I remember once, you joked, but it wasn’t really a joke, that the fastest way for you to get a story on the front page was to change your hairstyle.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, that’s true, actually. Yeah. So what do you think? I mean, we’re – (laughter) – it’s – do we want (inaudible)? That’s okay. That’s okay. No, we --
MS. DUTT: No. You don’t need to get any stories on the front page (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, the front page – the story on the front page. Well, it is the fact – I remember being in Finland once. And in Finland, they have taken gender equality to an incredibly sophisticated level. And I was meeting with the president, the finance minister, the head of the central bank, and about – the defense minister, and about four other women who, at that point in time, were the head of the government of that country.
And I said, “Well, now that you’ve reached critical mass, are you feeling that a lot of the comments about your hair and your clothes and all of that are behind you?” And the defense minister looked at me and she said, “No, because still I will go to a defense ministers meeting and it’ll be – coverage in the media will read my name, comma, wearing a spring suit of pastel hues, comma, spoke about the need for -- ” and so I think that we just have to keep persevering and not be deterred from and supporting women who have the gumption to get out into the political arena.
MS. DUTT: Absolutely. And there is an institution-like misogyny that I think women like yourselves have shattered through many glass ceilings. But you are still dealing with so many more invisible ones every day, right?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s so true. And it’s true globally; it’s not limited to any one country. Violence against women, unfortunately, is still a problem everywhere. Women are the primary victims now of conflicts – women and children – in places where there are active violence going on. We see efforts by religious and other extremists to turn the clock back on women’s education, healthcare opportunities. We’re still fighting against child marriage. We’re fighting against the devaluation of girl children. We do have a big agenda ahead of us, and it’s very important that both men and women be invested in changing the underlying attitudes that lead to these discriminatory practices.
MS. DUTT: I’m going to start opening the floor for questions with one question of my own to get the ball rolling: Many people expect that part of your focus in Kolkata is going to be about getting this part of the country to open up its markets to foreign direct investment in retail. You’re also coming from Bangladesh. There was to be a pact over sharing waters of the Teesta River. It did not come through at the last moment. How high are both these things on your agenda in Bengal?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they’re certainly on the list of things that I will want to talk about, but I’m also primarily interested in hearing from the chief minister, her vision for the future of West Bengal. Because I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to, on a first meeting, come in and say, well, this, this, and this. I want to know, well, what are you trying to achieve, and what will work and have you thought about this? Because I have been around a very long time now, and I have been fortunate to see a lot of economic efforts tried and succeeded, and tried and failed. And I come with, certainly, a belief that India can compete with anybody, anywhere. And the more open India becomes over time, the greater the rise in standard of living and opportunity for the broader number of people will be.
But I also understand politics, and I understand how lots of these decisions are difficult and have to be weighed. So I will certainly raise the United States’ desire to try to open the market to multi-brand retail. And part of the reason for that is there is an enormous amount of experience that can be brought to India on supply chains management, on developing relationships with small producers so that the production will be then made available in larger quantity and there can be all kinds of assistance, as we’re seeing with the Frito-Lay-PepsiCo factory with farmers on their agricultural production. So I think there are a lot of benefits that may not necessarily be immediately perceived.
And on water, this is an issue around the world that will be increasingly contentious. And we have to do a better job of trying to find win-win solutions for everybody, because the alternative will be, perhaps at the worst end, conflict, but leading up to that, dislocation, destabilization, refugee flows, famine, other kinds of problems that we are seeing in places like North Africa. So we have to work together as the international community – and the United States doesn’t have any interest in how the water issues are resolved, but we know from looking at our own projections of what will be hot issues – literally, hot issues in the future, that unless water is put on the list to be dealt with, it can cause all kinds of dislocation that needs to try to be headed off.
MS. DUTT: Okay. That was very candid and there are going to be lots of other questions coming up about the region and so on. But I think we’re ready to take our first questions from the audience. And let’s go here to the young man in the first row. I’d request you to stand and ask your questions, and just hold the mike close like that.
QUESTION: Hi. I’m Samuel from Mumbai, actually Bombay, and are part of the Youth Advisory Council of the U.S. Government. I have a question, rather a suggestion, is that why doesn’t the U.S. Government make constructive efforts to reach out to grassroot-level Indian youth? Because in this room, we don’t even represent one percent of the demographics that India has. Because if you want to push FDI-level nuclear plans, it’s the new youth that opposes it for whatever reasons.
And the second quick question I have, just from my learning as a socially change – because what is the role of youth or influence of youth in American policymaking?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Two great questions, and thank you for participating in our efforts at creating more interaction with Indian youth. It is, as you point rightly out, easier to do so in urban areas. You can have convening opportunities; there can be all kinds of connectivity that is what we are seeking. So we are certainly focusing on that, but we are looking for ways to reach out to world youth, not only in India but other places as well. And we really need the advice of our youth council advisors about how best to do that.
The spread of social media gives us an opportunity to do that, but that’s not universally available, right? So we need other ideas about how we can reach out, because I think you’re right – in most places in the world, people in rural areas often have less opportunity, even with their own country’s leadership, let alone with people from outside the country. So please help us come up with ideas about how we can better do that.
And certainly on the specific issues that you mention, we want to have a greater debate and dialogue about these issues. The – you mentioned FDI and the nuclear – civil nuclear issue, those are issues that we’ve been in conversation with the Indian Government about for a very long time. It’s not something that the United States – I had a one-sided discussion about. In fact, the Indian Government was very anxious to do the civil nuclear deal with the United States. When I was a senator from New York, I strongly supported it, because in the first instance, I wanted to demonstrate a growing relationship with India. And India Government officials and representatives of various aspects of Indian society made it very clear that India wanted this.
So we need to have an open conversation, but we also want it to be based on evidence and facts, because we can disagree about the policy prescription. But increasingly in my own country – and I think this is starting to happen around the world – people are trying to avoid the facts underlying these discussions and substitute ideology or partisan political perspectives or even commercial advantage, and I have been calling for evidenced-based decision making. Again, we can disagree about the policies that will be derived from that. But in a democracy, well, it’s essential that you have an informed citizenry, and there needs to be as good a base of evidence on which decisions are made. And so we want to try to do more to create that foundation.
MS. DUTT: So would you say briefly, Secretary Clinton, that you’re disappointed with where the liability bill stands, given how hard Washington pushed for this nuclear deal?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve made it clear to the government that under the legislation that was passed, it would be difficult for United States companies to participate, because we have private companies that are in the market place and other nuclear companies are backed up by their national government. So they are, in effect, subsidized so that the liability is not as big a problem for them, because they have their government standing behind them. So we’re still discussing this, and we’re hoping that there will be a way to work out the remaining kinks in this.
MS. DUTT: All right. Question – I want to get some young people in, and let’s go to the girl here in the third row, if we can just reach her the mike please? Can we just run and get her a mike please? Yeah.
QUESTION: I’m (inaudible). I’m a practicing gastroenterologist in Kolkata. My question to you is: I believe that in India we need to educate women to empower them. U.S. being one of the most advanced societies in the world, we see most women being educated, then why don’t we see them in top positions in the country? I mean, in the U.S., you do not see women in politics, in top positions in corporate world, in medicine. I’ve trained in U.S. myself, and I was the only female liver fellow out there. And for example, for yourself, I would have loved to see you create history by becoming the first women president of that country, and we haven’t seen you doing that. (Applause.) So what is the reason for that?
MS. DUTT: 2016 may happen yet.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, dear. (Laughter.) She’s going to get me in so much trouble. (Laughter.) Not only in your country, but my country. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: We have to make India and U.S. partner to empower women, especially in our country.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. No, I – well, I think there are two very interesting models here, because women have held the top positions politically in your country in a great display of women’s empowerment for decades now. But you still have a lot of women who need to be educated who don’t yet have the basic protections in their families, in their community in order to be able to fulfill their own human destiny. In our country, we have a broad base of education and ability for people to make decisions, but we still have a pretty hard glass ceiling that has not yet been broken at the presidential level, and certainly in our experience, we don’t yet have a commensurate percentage of women in our Congress or in our state offices. Increasingly women are in responsible positions in many fields, but we have our own work to do.
So I think we have kind of the mirror images of each other about the challenges that we confront. And I’ve been impressed in reading about what India did with its law to require a certain number of women on village councils. And I have followed that because there’s a big debate always – do you have quotas or requirements for women? And in many places from Rwanda now to India, having a requirement at least gets women in the door. They get their chance to demonstrate their abilities. So I think for your country, that’s worked out very well. That’s not something that would work within our political system.
MS. DUTT: I just got a question on Twitter from (inaudible) is the handle: Secretary Clinton, you broke more than a few glass ceilings in the Democratic Party primaries last time and since then. But do you think the United States is ready for a woman president, or is it still a long, long way to go?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I hope it’s not a long, long way to go. (Laughter.) I really want to see that in my lifetime. I just – our political system is so difficult, because individual candidates have to raise all the money that they use in their campaigns. So you not only have to be facing all the challenges of running for office, you also have to be out there raising money, and I raised tens of millions, more than a hundred million dollars in my campaign. So when you run for president, you start off on the same level, and it’s really a money race and a vote race.
And I was very excited to run for president, very pleased that I had a chance to do that, and obviously honored by the votes that I got. But I think that there will be an election that will elect a woman, but I think our political system is about the most difficult to navigate for men and women, but particularly for women. So we’re going to keep trying to encourage that final glass ceiling to be broken, but in the meantime, we’re running a lot of women for Congress, we’re running women for state offices, and we’ll just keep trying to fill the pipeline with a lot of women in the political environment.
MS. DUTT: So why have you been saying no to 2016?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I feel like –
MS. DUTT: You’re going to be that woman who’s going to break the final glass ceiling.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I really – (laughter) – I mean, no. (Applause.) I’m very flattered, but I feel like it’s time for me to kind of step off the high wire. I’ve been involved at the highest levels of American politics for 20 years now, and I’d like to come back to India and just wander around without having – (laughter) – the streets be closed and a lot of security around. I just want to get back to taking some deep breaths, feeling like there’s other ways that I can continue to serve.
MS. DUTT: Well, we hope you change your mind. One week is a long time in politics. Well, the young girl here in the pink shirt, let’s just stand up and reach you a mike, please? Can we reach you the mike?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Here comes a mike.
MS. DUTT: Here comes a mike, yes, please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Here it is.
MS. DUTT: Yeah. Just hold it close.
QUESTION: Yeah. This is Dr. (inaudible) from National Association for the Blind. I have one question. And that is: Whenever we talk about the youth council or women empowerment, one sector of the society is always missing. That is the person youth with disability or women with disability. How U.S.A. Government deals with this youth or women with disability? And what is the role of NGOs in the United States to deal with this problem? What the government (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, doctor. Thank you for the question. I’m very proud of the work that our country has done, starting in the 1970s, to pass legislation requiring that first children with disabilities could not be denied schooling. One of the first jobs I had as a young lawyer leaving Yale Law School was to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, and we were part of an NGO effort around the country to catalogue, to build the evidence for why this was a problem. And I and hundreds of other young people went knocking on doors and asking families: Do you have a child who is not in school? And we found a lot of children. We found blind children, we found children in wheelchairs, we found children with behavioral problems, we found children whose families couldn’t afford the medication or treatment that they needed to be able to attend school. So we passed legislation requiring that every child was entitled to an education and that they had to be, what we called, mainstreamed into our classrooms wherever possible.
And then when my husband was president, we passed the Americans with Disabilities Act so that it affected all people with disabilities, not just children in school, so that we began to take a hard look at ourselves. If you run a store or an office building, how difficult is it for someone with a disability to get into your store, to get into your office, and we began to require people to build ramps or to have other physical renovations made so that people with disabilities could be mobile. And the NGO community has continued this work, and we have a lot of NGOs that provide education, skills training, employment to people with disabilities.
So I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. We still always are taking a hard look at what more we need to do. It’s not perfect by any means. But we’ve laid a good foundation, and it’s an area that we stand ready to talk with any other country about our own experience.
MS. DUTT: All right. I’m going to take a question from some school students in the last row. Now, these are students from the La Martiniere Boys School. We’re in the La Martiniere Girls School by the way – (laughter) – asserting our agenda (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: There are some of the girls over there. (Inaudible.)
MS. DUTT: We’ll come to them. We’ll come to them. And this school, by the way, guys, completed 175 years last year.
Go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Morning, ma’am. (Inaudible) from across the road. And well, please pardon me if you think this question inappropriate as I come to know that you are a very formidable lady. But the question I would like to ask is: As you know that India is a non oil-producing nation and does not have many oil reserves, and the major part of these oil reserves has been a growing economic – come from the Middle Eastern nations and African nations, and Iran being a major exporter of oil within the nations.
So the question I’d like to ask is: Why is USA pressurizing India to reduce its oil imports from Iran? Because you are – India is in a great deal to – needs a great deal of oil right now. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Very good question, and let me give you a little context for that question. When President Obama took office in 2009, we knew that Iran’s continuing development of a nuclear weapons program would be very destabilizing in the region because there would be an arms race with the nations in the region who had pre-existing enmity between themselves and Iran, and that it would also cause a great threat to Israel.
And our goal was to try to persuade Iran to change its policy, because it was already under international sanctions and violating international obligations to the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Association, because it was a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and it had not complied with all of the obligations that it had assumed.
So we began putting together an international coalition. We passed very strong sanctions in the Security Council. And the entire world understood that if we could pressure Iran to change its behavior, that would avoid perhaps a serious disruption of the oil production and supply coming out of the Gulf.
So fast forward to today. We have international consensus. The pressure has brought Iran back to the negotiating table. The first meeting was in Istanbul. The second meeting will be in a few weeks in Baghdad. And there is unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council and the European Union and Germany to negotiate a resolution to the Iranian nuclear weapons threat.
We do not believe that Iran would have come to the table if there had not been sanctions and pressure. We do not believe that Iran will peacefully resolve this unless the pressure continues. So the reason why India, China, Japan, European countries who are the primary purchasers of Iran oil being asked to lower their supply is to keep the pressure on Iran. Japan, which went through a devastating earthquake, tsunami, shutdown of their nuclear programs, has worked very hard to do just that. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other suppliers are putting more oil into the market, so there is oil available for India and others.
So we think India, as a country that understands the importance of trying to use diplomacy to resolve these difficult threats, is certainly working toward lowering their purchase of Iranian oil. And we commend the steps that they have taken thus far. We hope that they will do even more, and we believe there is an adequate supply in the marketplace. So we think that this is part of India’s role in the international community. It’s not just what the United States is doing or asking; it’s what the international community is doing and asking.
MS. DUTT: Secretary Clinton, are you disappointed with India’s response thus far? Many people believe that today, the biggest irritant in the relationship between Delhi and Washington is India’s position on Iran. There has been, as you said, a move to reduce the oil imports, but it’s obviously not gone as far as you’d like.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but it has moved and, I mean, we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen the Indian Government being able to do. I mean, if there were not adequate supply, if there were not the ability for India to go into the market and meet its needs, we would understand that. But we believe there is adequate supply and that there are ways for India to continue to meet their – the energy requirements. So we appreciate what has been done, and of course, we want to keep the pressure on Iran, so whatever India or other countries can do will help us achieve that.
MS. DUTT: India is hoping for a sanctions waiver. Is that going to come through?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s too early to make any comment on that because that’s not for more than – it’s about two months from now before a decision would be made.
MS. DUTT: Okay. A question there – all right, there in the last row, please. If we can just get a mike – yes.
QUESTION: Good morning, ma’am.
MS. DUTT: Just hold the mike a little closer.
QUESTION: Good morning, ma’am. I’m (inaudible) I’m a student at La Martiniere for Girls. Seeing as we’re talking about foreign policy now, my question to you is that you’ve spoken about Iran, and you feel strongly about taking action against it. But what about Israel? Why hasn’t U.S. taken any active action against it despite the fact that it is in violation of 25 UN resolutions? And at the same time, why hasn’t it convinced Israel to sign the NPT, which Israel is yet to sign?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well – (applause) – I don’t think we’ve been able to convince India to sign the NPT. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Touche. But --
MS. DUTT: I just saw in the response in this room, this is a serious question in this part of the world.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is, and obviously, the United States believes that whatever differences one might have with the situation in the Middle East, Israel has been defending itself now for 60 years, and has made numerous overtures to try to bring about a peaceful resolution of the situation, and it has thus far been unsuccessful in doing so. We continue to try to press for a resolution, particularly on the Palestinian issues, which the United States also cares deeply about.
So we think that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the biggest problems facing the world, and it’s not only one country that we worry about. We worry about nuclear weapons proliferating in other countries, a nuclear arms race that would be very damaging. Even though we look at this on primarily what states are doing, our biggest fear is that nuclear material could fall into the hands of terrorist groups.
So we believe that at this moment in time, the principal threat is a nuclear-armed Iran, because Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. There was a recent incident here in India with Iran-supported state terrorism. They work through proxies like Hezbollah. We broke up a plot where the Iranian Government was trying to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States by hiring a drug trafficker hitman. So the problems with Iran go far beyond even this region. They recently were engaged in bomb building in Thailand. They bombed a facility in Argentina some years back.
So I just want everybody in India to understand we have nothing against the Iranian people. President Obama reached out to the Iranian people from the moment he came into office. He said we want a different relationship. He has reached out to the Iranian leadership asking if there can’t be a different relationship. So far, we have had no reciprocity. And what we hear from the region around Iran is a great deal of anxiety because they’re not worried about the possibility of something happening in the future; they’re dealing in the here and now with what Iran does to destabilize them, to support terrorism, and they believe a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to world peace.
So we can point fingers at other countries, but that doesn’t in any way undermine the focus that needs to be put on the dangers posed by Iran. Look at the fact that we have unity. Russia and China are just as concerned as the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. So this is – this may be, in India, a problem that you think of as being kind of far off, that you don’t think Iran would have any reason to cause you trouble, but then why did they send their terrorist agents to your country to try to kill Israeli diplomats and other civilians?
This is a regime that has a history of aggressive behavior, and I don’t think you deal with aggressors by giving into them. So part of our goal is to resolve this peacefully and diplomatically, and that’s why we need India to be part of the international effort.
MS. DUTT: Are you worried, Secretary, about a military – (applause) – you can clap. If you like the answer, you can. (Applause.) Are you apprehensive about a possible military conflict between Israel and Iran?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I am apprehensive. We’re on public record. I’m not saying anything that has not been in our press. I mean, if you put yourself in Israel’s position and you have leaders of a country saying they want to wipe you off the map, they want to destroy you, they want to end the presence of the Jewish people, it would make you a little worried, I think. And certainly, India knows from your own experience that you have to pay attention to threats, and you have to be prepared for them in your own neighborhood.
So I think that Israel is very worried that if Iran were to get a nuclear weapon, there might be a decision by some future leader to actually use it, and that would be devastating. So yes, of course they’re worried, and they are supporting our efforts to try to resolve this peacefully and convince Iran that they do not – they could – they have a right to civil nuclear power. They have that right, and they are a member of the NPT and that comes with being a member.
So we would like to see them join the international consensus for the peaceful use of nuclear power, but give up irrevocably their right to weapons, and that’s what we’re hoping that they would eventually do.
MS. DUTT: All right. Let’s move on. A question here in the front row – the second row, sorry. Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: So – good morning, ma’am.
MS. DUTT: Hold the mike closer. Just hold the mike closer.
QUESTION: Good morning, ma’am. I am also a part of the youth advisory council of the U.S. Government. So I have two simple questions for you. The first one is with the possible cut-down outsourcing, it leads to a lot of protectionism and (inaudible) about their jobs? And --
MS. DUTT: Okay. Let’s take one question at a time so we can get other people to --
SECRETARY CLINTON: So you’re talking about outsourcing --
MS. DUTT: Outsourcing --
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- from the United States to India?
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
MS. DUTT: One minute, please. Excuse me, we’ll try and give everybody a chance.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Outsourcing from the United States to India. Well, it’s been going on for many years now, and it’s part of our economic relationship with India. And I think that there are advantages with it that have certainly benefitted many parts of our country, and there are disadvantages that go to the need to improve the job skills of our own people and create a better economic environment. So it – like anything, it’s about pluses and minuses.
MS. DUTT: There’s a new advertisement in the election campaign of President Obama that’s causing a lot of heartburn here over outsourcing.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an election campaign, and there is an obligation of any election campaign – (laughter) --
MS. DUTT: To overstate a little bit?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, not overstating – I wouldn’t go that far – but to talk about what’s on people’s minds. And it’s more directed toward the fear that a lot of Americans who were in manufacturing, who don’t feel like they have any other job possibilities because they weren’t trained for any other job possibilities, so it’s a legitimate issue. It needs to be aired.
But I think the President has been very clear that he wants to improve our own exports, when we’re on the way to doubling our exports. He wants to improve education, skills training so that people can have the jobs of the 21st century. So it’s fair to talk about, but you also have to have a solution that looks at what’s really going to work.
MS. DUTT: Okay. I’m getting another question on Twitter, and this says: With the United States terminating Usama bin Ladin last year, what is the next big target for America in the war against terrorism? And as you answer that, I’m actually going to get up that very definitive image there. I’m going to ask you a few questions about what you were thinking in that moment.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
MS. DUTT: What’s the next big target?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look, we want to disable al-Qaida, and we’ve made a lot of progress in doing that. There are several significant leaders still on the run. Zawahiri, who inherited the leadership from bin Ladin, is somewhere, we believe, in Pakistan. So we are intent upon going after those who are trying to keep al-Qaida operational and inspirational. But the network of terrorism, which India knows all too well from your own experiences, is more broad-based than any one group.
And I think you have to do three things. You have to have the very best possible intelligence, law enforcement, judicial, defense response so that you protect your people. I mean, the first obligation of any government is to protect your people, and you’ve got to do that. Secondly, you do have to go after those who are trying to kill you. You have to be focused on that. I recently authorized a $10 million award for one of the people we believe was the mastermind of the attack in Mumbai.
MS. DUTT: Hafiz Saeed.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, killed 166 people, including six Americans, and we want everybody who was associated with that brought to justice. And it may take longer than any of us would like, but we’re going to be standing with you in trying to make that happen.
And then thirdly, though – (applause) – you have to change the way people think. India and the United States are the greatest rebukes to religious extremism because we are pluralistic democracies, because you have people of every religion like we do. And that drives the extremists crazy. They hate tolerance. (Applause.) They hate respect for people’s religious beliefs. They want us all to believe what they believe. And we stand against that. So we have to be really working toward greater religious tolerance, greater interfaith understanding, ending any remnants of discrimination and prejudice or bias, and make the case broadly across the world that the extremists are a dead end, that the way for a better future is one where people are listening to each other, working with each other, and respecting each other.
MS. DUTT: I’m so glad you brought up the example of Hafiz Saeed and the decision you authorized that was announced in the U.S. Justice Department, and you saw the response here. There’s been some confusion. Initially it was announced as a bounty on his head, then it turned out to be a reward for information that could lead to his arrest or conviction.
Indians say we’ve handed over dossier after dossier, and all the information that is needed is there in those dossiers. Are you saying there isn’t enough information?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but we’re saying that – this is the way our system works. I mean, that’s what these rewards are. They are rewards for information that can lead to bringing somebody to justice. We’re well aware that there has not yet been the steps taken by the Pakistani Government to do what both India and the United States have repeatedly requested that they do. And we’re going to keep pushing that point. So it’s a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that, and it is a cost that they themselves will have to bear going forward.
MS. DUTT: Now I’m just going to go back to the audience, but that picture – if we can just get that back again, because I wanted you to share with us two things: What were you thinking in that? And I will have it up in just a second. And also, President Bill Clinton recently said that he had no idea from you, you did not share with him that the OBL operation was going to happen. And there’s that picture back again. What were you thinking there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I first saw it, I had no idea when it was taken or what was going on, and I didn’t even know if I was coughing or – I had no idea. But then we did the timeline, and we think that that was around the time that one of our helicopters had a problem. We send in our Navy SEALs on helicopters, and one of the helicopters had a problem going into the courtyard of the bin Ladin complex, and it got its tail caught on the wall, disabling it. And that was a very stressful moment because we had to get another helicopter in, in order to take out the men who were on that helicopter. We had to blow up the helicopter. Before we blew up the helicopter, we had to get the women and children out of the house so that they would not be endangered by that, something I’m very proud that the SEALs did. So there was a lot going, and I think you can see the intensity of expressions on everybody’s face.
MS. DUTT: And could there be another OBL-type operation needed in Pakistan or anywhere else?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to comment on that. I mean, we’ve made it clear that we would like very much to have the kind of counterterrorism partnership with Pakistan where we went after the targets that were killing Afghans, Americans, and others in Afghanistan, and after the targets that were killing Pakistanis in Pakistan. I mean, Pakistan has lost far more people in the last 10 years – more than 30,000 to terrorist attacks than either India or the United States have. And it is in their interest and it is in the interest of their sovereignty to go after terrorists who are operating on their territory, and you have to demonstrate that you’re not going to cede authority or territory to terrorists. So we’re going to continue to work to try to have a mutually beneficial framework for them.
MS. DUTT: All right. Question here, the young lady in the first row.
QUESTION: Welcome to Kolkata --
MS. DUTT: Hold the mike closer.
QUESTION: -- the City of Joy. I’m (inaudible) and I’m a Bengali and I’m a designer. My question to you is that the (inaudible) and the fashion industry is still very much disconnected with reality, reality of global warming, and so many other important issues. So what my question to you is: How we can connect these two worlds? I’ve been working a lot with Jute, which is a very, very eco-friendly fabric from Eastern India, so my question is: How we can promote this fabric in U.S. and how these two countries can work better with other textiles?
My second question is that how important --
MS. DUTT: Wait. We’ll take one question at a time, there are other hands up.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, I think that’s a very interesting idea and I believe the best way is to connect up our fashion designers with their counterparts here in India. And I – you all have like a fashion design council or something –
MS. DUTT: Yes, we do.
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- and trade information about more environmentally sustainable materials and means of production, and I would be happy to encourage that.
MS. DUTT: Question here. Yes?
QUESTION: I’m the (inaudible) general secretary of the Indian National Congress. I just wanted to ask you a question because I was very encouraged when you set the northeast policy. I come from the northeast; I’m not from Kolkata. I come from the northeast of India. You’ve spoken about Iran and the foreign policy. There’s one country which your successes been able to, let’s say, soften, which is Burma, and the northeast of India and Burma and the northeast ASEAN country, can you tell us how you could match both the regions India with northeast, as well as Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia towards working for a better economic as well as cultural relationships? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s one of the most important questions to answer for this century, because if you look at South Asia and Central Asia, if you go from Turkmenistan and the other countries in Central Asia through Afghanistan, Pakistan, into India, into Bangladesh, into Burma, this region does not trade or exchange on cultural or other bases as much as other regions of the world do. There are longstanding, historical differences. There are still simmering disagreements and even potential for conflict if not managed correctly.
So one of the things we’re doing, and I spoke about this in my speech in Chennai last year, is promoting the idea of a new Silk Road, that India is on the old Silk Road, Burma was on the old Silk Road, (inaudible) Bangladesh was on the old Silk Road. And think about – to go back to the gentleman’s question about oil – think about a pipeline that came from Turkmenistan, which has a lot of oil and gas, through Afghanistan, Pakistan, into India, through – into the southeast and to Bangladesh and the like. Think about the port here in Kolkata being repaired and restored and turned into one of the great ports looking east. Think about the way of enhancing transportation connectivity from East India to the northeast down into the countries you mentioned. I mean, this is the kind of vision that I believe should occupy the minds of the leaders of the region right now because we all have to lift our heads up. We cannot just keep being preoccupied with our own internal political problems because a lot of the solutions lie outside with having greater peace, stability, and prosperity that we are a part of, and I would hope that would be on the agenda for India to lead.
MS. DUTT: And not time yet, though, to lift sanctions against Burma? Not time yet?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are lifting sanctions against Burma; not all at once because we want to watch what happens and encourage the continuing reform.
MS. DUTT: All right, a question there, the gentleman with the spectacles and the check shirt. Just get a mike for yourself, yes.
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I’m a musician and I have a question from the world of music. I’ve been involved in international collaborations with many countries – with musicians of many countries across the world. Now I’ve seen – I’ve been to the United States many times performing all across the country. Now what I see is that the music of India is probably less served in the mainstream than music from other parts of the world.
I would like to ask you generally how much of a cultural ally is India considered, and what sort of forums are available for artists to reach out to directly with the United States Government, apart from ICCR – because we don’t really get a lot of help from the ICCR – so that we can collaborate better with musicians from your country and perform for the mainstream?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am a very strong believer in cultural exchanges, cultural and artistic exchanges. And I would like to connect you up with our consul general, who is over here, so – afterwards. Because we are trying to enhance the number of such exchanges, and we know that those kind of connections between people are really what makes your relationship enduring over time. So we will follow up with you.
MS. DUTT: All right. There’s a question here, the young girl in the front row. Yes.
QUESTION: Welcome to India, Madam Secretary. The question that I have is a little different from what everyone has said. I work with young people, and part of your youth council as well. I work on youth and active citizenship, and I’ve been following you for a very long time since I was in school, and I’ve seen you transform in terms of how young people have been able to associate with you, especially the Texts to Hillary, the whole Tumblr, memes that went viral. And even you sent in a meme, and that even finally sort of – so what I want to ask you is there’s something that I face in India all the time – is how do the young people to sort of engage with politicians? Because if we are 60 percent young, that means that we are going to be occupying power but no one wants to occupy power. So how do you get young people to engage, and how do you get politicians to engage with young people? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think about this question a lot, and I don't know that I have any conclusive answers at all, but let me just make a couple of general points, and thank you for raising it. I mean, first of all, historically, certainly in my country but around the world in democracies, young people are the least likely to participate, the least likely to vote, the least likely to run for office, the least likely to be involved in the political process. Usually in our country, the voting rate is pretty low of young people, and President Obama raised it a little bit but not as much as all of us had even hoped for.
So I think the first thing is we got to keep trying to convince young people who are preoccupied in their own lives – finishing their studies, getting their first jobs, having relationships, getting married, having children – I mean, there’s a lot going on in the lives of young people during that period. So we have to convince young people that it is worth participating in politics.
Now, secondly, young people often have very strong feelings about issues, but they don’t necessarily connect those issues to the political process, and that’s something we have to do a better job of – trying to make – and I’ll give you a quick story from Egypt. There’s no doubt young people and social media lit the fuse for the Egyptian revolution. They’re the ones who were first into the Tahrir Square; they’re the ones who kept the revolution going. It was clear that this was a young person’s cry for freedom, democracy, opportunity.
But when we began talking with the young people who were in the revolution about participating in politics, they all said the same: We don’t want to participate in politics. That’s not for us. And we made the case, but if you don’t participate in politics, people you may not agree with will participate in politics. And it was very hard to convince them to transfer their revolutionary energy into that. The Occupy Wall Street movement – very much against politics, but in a democracy, like it or not, politics is the means by which we make the decisions that determine what direction our country is going. So we have to do a better, smarter job, and maybe we can use social media more effectively.
MS. DUTT: Now, she spoke, Secretary Clinton, about your transformation, and I’ve got a bunch of images I want to take you all through. Now that’s you on a secret --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MS. DUTT: -- mission to Tripoli, and that set off the meme that was being spoken about, Texts From Hillary. Those were the two guys --
SECRETARY CLINTON: They did.
MS. DUTT: -- that were kind of spoofing you ‘til you joined in on the joke prompting Maureen Dowd to write a whole column on your cool quotient.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
MS. DUTT: Just things like that. Do you think that’s a good idea for people who don’t actually know what’s happening? There’s the bionic woman sort of image there --
SECRETARY CLINTON: right.
MS. DUTT: -- secret mission to Tripoli, and that’s you joining in on the joke on you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right, right.
MS. DUTT: Have you changed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think so. I just – obviously, that was very funny. (Laughter.) And I don’t – I didn’t know the two young men. They made it up one day, and all of a sudden, it started appearing, and I thought it was pretty funny. So I wanted to meet them because it was so clever, and it was funny without being mean or hurtful to the people that it made fun of, myself included. So I liked how they did it, and so they came in and we spoofed it.
But it – that’s – I mean, the internet and obviously social media has so much potential for communicating messages that can be impactful. And we can do funny things, but I think the young woman’s question was serious. How do we do more serious communication that will – that people will actually follow up on? So now we’ll – so maybe we’ll ask those two young men to do it, because they clearly – (laughter) – understood it.
MS. DUTT: But interestingly, I think the point also being that there – if we can queue up the next set of images, we’ve got a little less time now – that’s of you literally letting your hair down, and it got a lot of traction in the American press, a lot of commentary on how it’s so refreshing to see a politician who can have a little bit of fun. (Laughter.) You’re all right with that? I mean, that spoke to young people.
Let’s just get a mike. You --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yes.
MS. DUTT: Did those – once again, did those images change that for you?
QUESTION: I mean, I think the thing was that with a lot of the times when you cannot associate with your politicians, right, and the fact that you went out and you did something like that, or the fact that the President of the United States is on Instagram and on Twitter, and I’m on – and we have politicians on Twitter and on Instagram and on all of those things as well.
But I think it’s just about how you can engage more coherently and how – what do you do to get you or the politicians to engage with --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: -- the young people, and with lesser walls, I guess? So I think that is what it was about.
MS. DUTT: And those pictures President – prompted President Obama to say you were drunk-texting him. (Laughter.) A joke of course, a joke of course.
But as we end, Secretary Clinton, has it got easier in your many decades in politics to laugh at yourself? In your book, Living History, you quoted Eleanor Roosevelt and you said, “A woman in politics has to have a skin as thick as a rhinoceros.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
MS. DUTT: Has that got easier to deal with the tough things, the bad things, the mean things?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it has, because when you’ve had as much experience as I have, you either figure out how to deal with it or you don’t get out of bed in the morning. And I think for me criticism, which kind of comes with the territory of being in politics in either of our countries, you have to take it seriously, but not personally. And by that I mean sometimes your critics actually have a lesson for you. Maybe what you were trying to do was not being communicated effectively and they are pointing that out, so you want to take it seriously. But you can’t take it personally and that’s why I quote Eleanor Roosevelt, one of our great American leaders, about growing skin as thick as a rhinoceros if you’re a woman in politics.
MS. DUTT: The very last question here – it has to be the last question. I’m sorry. I am sorry.
QUESTION: Hello. It’s not a question. It’s something for Hillary Habibi. That’s the way we address in Bengal. You’re habibi for long. I’m Heena Gorsia. I’m the president of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce here. And it’s not a question because I have questions. So on some other occasion when I have an opportunity, I’ll be giving you all the questions.
But I’d like to comment on something that Barkha said and asked you, that – have you changed. May I answer that for you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sure. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: She hasn’t changed. She’s become better.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thank you.
QUESTION: And whether she breaks that invisible ceiling in 2016 or not, she’s going to leave behind footprints and an inspiration for the world. (Applause.) I have broken many ceilings and there are so many more to break.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And it’s up to these young women, don’t you think?
QUESTION: Yes. I need their support to break that many ceilings so that we make way for them, and they have to break that many less.
MS. DUTT: I think that’s the first signal to wrap up, but I will give the lady next to you 10 seconds. Just 10 seconds, just 10 seconds.
QUESTION: Only (inaudible).
MS. DUTT: Ten seconds. Just a minute, sir. Women get first on this show.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. DUTT: Okay.
QUESTION: I’m (inaudible). I’m an artist, a visual artist. And I’m against this terrorism. Rather, I prefer creating human being. And in India we have elected political leaders for a long time, like Indira Gandhi or our chief minister in West Bengal now and our president is also a woman.
But we don’t have certain rights in India and my question is: Do you think there should be rights for single women and single mothers and special facilities from social security, et cetera, in India like many other first world countries?
MS. DUTT: Secretary Clinton, if you’d like to take that.
MS. DUTT: Sir, please pipe down.
MS. DUTT: Sir, please pipe down.
MS. DUTT: Okay. Let her answer now, sir.
MS. DUTT: Okay. Lots of changes in Bengal. Sir, we request you to pipe down. Lots of changes in Bengal, questions on single women, you get all sorts of questions thrown your way.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let – I’ll just quickly answer both.
First, look, I strongly believe that raising children is the most important job of any society and therefore, we need to support parents, and if those parents are single mothers we need to support them, and we need to give them the kind of sense of belonging and involvement that they need in order to do the best job they can for their own children.
So of course, I think as economies develop, as democracies develop, there need to be more social security sort of supports. And I’m looking very much forward to seeing the chief minister. I will look forward to that and am looking forward to our discussion to just get to know her and to hear about what she hopes to accomplish for her people here in West Bengal. (Applause.)
MS. DUTT: Can I ask you to sum up for us where you see the Indo-U.S. equation? There have been some naysayers, there have been some irritants, some of which we’ve spoken about, others – for example, the retrospective tax that has a lot of people in Washington concerned. What’s the big picture? What are the main worries?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Fundamentally, this relationship between the world’s largest and the world’s oldest democracy is very sound. It is not only being carried out on a government-to-government level, but a business level, a cultural level, a professional level, a people-to-people level. So I am very confident that this relationship will only get deeper and broader as time goes by. That does not mean we are always going to agree on everything. No two people agree on everything. Two great countries cannot possibly agree on everything. We have different perspectives, we have different histories, we have different challenges, but what I am very pleased about is that in the last three and a half years we have created this mechanism for an ongoing strategic dialogue where we talk about everything. Nothing is off the table. We may not agree, but we will discuss and air every single issue. And I think that’s the way you should develop a relationship. So I’m very confident about the relationship going forward. (Applause.)
MS. DUTT: Well, we look forward to welcoming you back to India again.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MS. DUTT: Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MS. DUTT: Can I get a big round of applause here? (Applause.)