Here Are The Key Takeaways From Harvard US-India Initiative

The event took place at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Colaba, on 3rd and 4th of January, 2020 and hosted 450 students from high schools and colleges across the country.


The HCUII or Harvard College US-India Initiative hosted an event in Mumbai with prominent keynote speakers from all walks of life including Bollywood, Politics, Journalism and Law. The event took place at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Colaba on 3rd and 4th of January, 2020 and hosted 450 students from high schools and colleges across the country.

Here are the key takeaways from the event: 

  • The keynote speakers included Niranjan Hiranandani, Justice Madan Lokur, MP Subramaniam Swamy, Aditya Thackeray, Manoj Adlakha and Rajvardhan Rathore. 
  • There were several panel discussions across a plethora of topics with the major ones being-
  • 1. Women In India- A Long Fight Ahead which was presided by MP Supriya Sule, founder of Prabhudas Liladher Amisha Vora and transgender and Dalit activist Grace Banu.
  • 2. India's Vibrant Comedy Scenes: Beyond just jokes discussed comedy with regards to societal and current issues and was presided by Sorabh Pant, Rishabh Nahar, Samay Raina, Tanmay Bhat and Sumukhi Suresh.
  • 3. Bollywood: Cinema As Vehicle Of Change by film critic Anupama Chopra, Juhi Chawla and Sanjay Gupta. 
  • Aaditya Thackeray stated that the main focus of his governance will be on improving the state education system. 
  • MP Subramaniam Swamy acknowledged that the mistake of the current government is that they overestimated the demand side and underestimated supply. He further suggested reformative measures in Income Tax. 
  • Supriya Sule asserted that the main focus of the government will be on women safety and they will soon be setting up a board in Maharashtra government for LGBTQ community. 
  • The keynote by Niranjan Hiranandani and Rajvardhan Rathore was inspiring for the young generation and majorly focused on how one should follow their dreams. 

Notably, the HCUII was set up in 2011 by undergraduates of Harvard University in an attempt to engage with the youth of India regarding issues that matter to them the most, such as politics, the economy, women’s education and so on. The annual HCUII conferences have expanded widely since its inception, and have growing demand as well. 

The HCUII accommodated 450 students this year that had been elected from a pool of over 3,000 delegates from 26 Indian states and 5 countries. It also mentions that there were special provisions available for students who are unable to pay the delegate fees to enter the event, thus making this event approachable for any student, regardless of their financial situation. The delegates had an opportunity to engage with the speakers through the fireside chats, speeches, and panel discussions that aimed to inspire delegates to reflect on what India means to them and how they can utilize their experiences to catalyse meaningful change in the future.

Founded and entirely run by Harvard undergraduates, HUII was established with the goal of building long-term cooperation between American and Indian students in an effort to address some of the most pressing issues impacting India. Past speakers at HCUII India conferences have included Raghuram Rajan, Piyush Goyal, Shashi Tharoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Shikha Sharma, Jacqueline Bhabha, Naina Lal Kidwai, and Arvind Subramanian.

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