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Bill Clinton: I'm still in love with India

May 12, 2009 21:54 IST

Bill Clinton: I'm still in love with India

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Former US President Bill Clinton on Monday said that his love for India continues, even though he stepped down as the President of the United States more than eight years ago.

 

Making a brief speech after the American India Foundation renamed its Service Corps Fellowship the William J Clinton Fellowship for Service in India -- as a mark of honour to Clinton, the honorary chair of the foundation -- the former president said the honour is 'particularly important because of his love (of India) and history' in that country. The honour was bestowed on Clinton during the annual spring gala of AIF in New York Monday. The event raised nearly 1 million dollars for the foundation's work in India.


Image: Former US President Bill Clinton addresses the crowd
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi
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Clinton: India's efforts very impressive after 2004 Tsunami

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In fact I still work there (in India) in healthcare as many of you know,' Clinton said. The former President, who enthralled the few hundred guests at the New York Hilton with his brief remarks, said that as a former United Nations coordinator for Tsunami relief and reconstruction, he could attest that India did a marvellous job of economic reconstruction after the December 26, 2004 natural disaster.

 

'In terms of diversifying its economy and giving those fishermen opportunities to develop new businesses and new marketing skills, (what India did) was really terrific. So I am very pleased and honoured to be involved in AIF. I still try supporting you everywhere and I talk about it a lot,' Clinton said.


Image: From Left, Rajat K Gupta, Dr Anji Reddy, Bill Clinton and Victor J Menezes
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi
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Clinton on 26/11: 'It was agony for me personally and I hated it'

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Clinton also addressed problems in South Asia, giving special attention to the horrific November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. 'It was agony for me personally and I hated it,' Clinton said, adding that India's neighbour Pakistan is having problems from both within and outside. 'I do not know where the future is going,' he said.

 

'Let me remind you that India is kind of America. Our country has been counted out many times since it was founded. The same thing (is) people about India how could they (Indians) possibly hold this country together? All I know is that India is seriously confronting the challenges (like the US),' Clinton said.


Image: Former President Clinton speaking on South Asia
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi
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Clinton: Young generation has potential to change lives

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Heaping praise on AIF, which he himself helped found in the aftermath of the Gujarat Earthquake of 2001, Clinton said through the three classes who have graduated from the Clinton School of Public Service and the hundreds of college students who have attended the Clinton Global Initiative University's meetings, he has seen the great potential this generation of young people has to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

'I look forward to the continued success of AIF's Service Fellowship, which is helping shape the next generation of leaders to possess a strong passion for India and innovation to find solutions for the problems we face," Clinton said.


Image: Bill Clinton with Indian American businessman Sant Singh Chatwal
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi
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Striving for understanding and fellowship

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The Clinton fellowship for Service in India is an exchange of technical skills and intellectual resources that aims to build the capacity of Indian non-governmental organisations while developing American leaders with a deep understanding of India. Since 2001, when it was founded, over 200 Fellows have worked with over 90 Indian NGOs.

 

AIF also honoured Dr Anji Reddy, founder and chairman of DR Reddy's Laboratories, and Henry R Kravis, founding partner of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Company, for their contributions and care toward philanthropy.


Image: The William J Clinton Fellowship for service in India. From Left, Sridar Iyengar, Jeena Shah, Ann Levy, Sanjay Sharma, Bill Clinton, Larry Beh, Ajaita Shah, Vikas Shah, Yael Gottlieb
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi
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