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Technology's growing importance to diplomacy

Richard Verma ’90, U.S. ambassador to India, says it is drawing the two nations closer.

Richard Verma ’90 freely admits that he struggled with his major field, industrial engineering, when he was an undergraduate student at Lehigh nearly three decades ago.

“Industrial engineering,” Verma said here last week, “didn’t come naturally to me. I was challenged every day; it was a real workout. The training, the regimen and the rigor at Lehigh are hard to find at other places.”

Today, Verma is the United States Ambassador to India and he takes every opportunity he can to stress the importance of science and technology in the fast-growing and warming relationship between the world’s two largest democracies.

“The United States and India are naturally compatible in many areas,” said Verma. “In our bilateral relationship, we need to take two tracks—the track of diplomacy and international relations and the track of science and technology—and try to blend them together.

“Taking one track without the other won’t address the needs that people have. Bringing them together can have the greatest social impact and help achieve innovation on pressing problems like clean energy and healthcare, cybersecurity and space.”

Verma, who was appointed to his position in 2014 by President Barack Obama, visited Lehigh on Thursday (April 28) to deliver the Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture, which is sponsored by the department of industrial and systems engineering. The department also presented him with its 2016 ISE Distinguished Alumni Award in Industry.

Verma, who attended Lehigh on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, later earned a law degree from American University and an international law degree from Georgetown Law Center. More recently, he served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He led the Obama administration’s negotiations with Congress for new sanctions on Iran while working for passage of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia. He received the Distinguished Service Medal, the State Department’s highest civilian honor.

Read the full story at the Lehigh University News Center.

-Kurt Pfitzer is Manager of Editorial Services with Lehigh University's Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

May 11, 2016

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