I spent seven days in Delhi and what a wonderful introduction to India it was. As I start the next part of my journey in Mumbai, I wanted to reflect on the first week of my Eisenhower Fellowship.
From my very first meeting with the team from Aga Khan touring the urban renewal project at Nizamuddin Basti and seeing the work at the school, health center and community toilet. I knew that my Fellowship to India was going to be something special. I was seeing real work being done in difficult and sometimes unimaginable situations but the reward was beyond measure and most important for me was hearing the stories of how people in the community were positively affected.
The women from Breakthrough India gave me an opportunity to discuss some of the most pressing issues of women in India today. What I found was that like women all over the world, women in India deal with issues of abuse, self-esteem, equality and trying to find a way to be all things to all people. I discovered that everything is not black and white and that being a women anywhere in the world can be complicated.
One of the highlights of my trip was getting to meet 2002 Eisenhower Fellows from India, Member of Parliament Dr. PD Rai and Mr. K. Raju, Joint Secretary of National Advisory Council. I had great meetings with these gentleman and discussed the important issues of poverty and educational opportunity. These men do such important work dealing with these issues and have had an impact in improving the lives of thousands of people in India. They made me feel so welcome and a part of the Eisenhower Family. The network of Fellows is outstanding and the support that is given is an extra bonus to an already extraordinary opportunity.
Meeting Suneeta Dhar and her team from Jagori Rural along with a coalition of individuals who work with the issue of the homeless or City Makers as they are called was amazing. To hear the challenges that exist in providing services in India but also the successes gave me hope for the future. To see people living in tents next to some of the shelters that they had created was a testament to the hardwork and tireless effort of these amazing individuals, but also showed the long road ahead.
I feel that I had a great mix of meetings between service providers and policy makers like Professor Shantha Sinha, Chairman of the National Commission for the Protection Child Rights and Ms. Kumari Selja the Honorable Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. It was interesting getting the prospective of government officials and to hear the plans that they had for the future to alleviate the effects of poverty. The centerpiece of the plan is the education of all children in India. It was clear that the government had several initiatives, but the question of success was clearly based upon how effectively and efficiently they can be implemented.
My last set of meetings for the week were related to legal education. I had the honor of speaking to about 75 students at a lecture sponsored by the Women's Law Society at the Jindal Global Law School. I discussed my own journey out of poverty and homelessness and the important role that education and my grandmother played in my success as an attorney. I also discussed the role that I felt people in the legal profession could play in society by using our talents to solve some of the world's most challenging issues like poverty and equal opportunity for all.
Last but not least was my Saturday evening meeting at National Law University, with law professor Deva Rao. I was impressed with the quality of the legal education that was being offered along with the idea of the importance of social responsibility. I discussed with Professor Devo Rao ways that they University may increase the opportunities given to underprivileged youth to be able to take advantage of a legal education by starting pipeline programs that will get students as young as grade school interested in a career in law. I shared some ways we attempting to do this in Philadelphia.
I thought that Delhi was a great mix of growing vibrant city along with a strong traditional and ethnic heritage. I am looking forward to discovering the mysteries of Mumbai.