In October 2014, I spent four useful days North Carolina as part of my three week IVLP visit to the US. Our group was learning how American think-tanks work. We went first to Washington and then to New York, after which we returned to the "real world" of Raleigh. We visited legislatures, think-tanks, universities. We also shopped, ate out at the nearby mall, made friends, and were hosted for dinner by upstanding citizens of the Tarheel State.
From the political gridlock of Washington, it was refreshing to see a state whose politics was clearer, yet practical. The think-tanks that we met had their ideological biases but were focused on solving real-world problems. The colleges, despite their old-world charms were completely conscious of the challenges and opportunities of 2015. Foreign language programs coupled with inter-disciplinary research. High-tech combined with high cuisine were both represented. Our party from India ate delicious south Indian cuisine in a specialty Durham restaurant. I met young women and men studying hard to join the Foreign Service or to sell the products and services coming the Research Triangle Park.
Some images remain: the statues of firemen at a park (in India no one remembers the firemen); the range of communication tools that NC's think-tanks use—from old-style broadsheet newspapers to presentations given away on USB drives; the deep sense of history (great museum at your state capital) and the sunny optimism that most had; and finally the wonderful IF team with the "Can-Do" achievement that the United States offers to each of its residents.
New Delhi to North Carolina is a world away, but our IVLP made us understand the importance of a well-run state that encourages both commerce and ideas to flourish; that combines democracy with diversity.
Written by Harsh Shrivastava
Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd.