Dr. Yadla Hema Prasad was the convener and Bandla Hanumaiah was the president of TANA conference held in Washington DC in 2007. About 14,000 people participated in the conference. Highlight of the conference was an hour-long speech by former President Bill Clinton to the business seminar.
The then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nara Chandrababu Naidu introduced and welcomed President Clinton.
There was a program known as youth mixer, where about 200 youth met and the mixing resulted in 10 marriages ensuing the conference.
Kakarala Prabhakara Chowdary was the TANA president during 2007-2009. During his tenure TANA, along with Telugu communities across the globe fought for recognition of Telugu as “Pracheena Bhasha,” and achieved it in the year 2009. TANA continued it’s on-going programs, Telugu teaching at UT Austin, International Internship program, backpack program with school supplies and scholarship program for college students. A new program called “Team Square” was started to help Telugu families in USA under distress.
During Chowdary’s term, there was an Internal Revenue Service audit of TANA – on conventions, trust funds, and general funds — for the years 2004 and 2005. TANA successfully came out of this audit using the pro bono services of CPA Prabhakara Chowdary. He obtained Illinois tax exempt status that saved several thousands in refunds to TANA for the conference expenditure.
Jampala Chowdary introduced President Bill Clinton
“This is a historic day in our in TANA’s history. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of TANA organization, we were fortunate to have a man that we all consider to be a friend of Indian Americans, the very first president to visit Andhra Pradesh, the state that we all came from, the president during whose leadership of this great country, there has been a tremendous opportunity created for literally thousands of fellow Americans to come and participate in the industrial and information technology revolution that has energized and transformed not just U.S., not just India, but the entire world.
I know that you are all eager to hear the keynote address. I now invite the president of our beloved organization TANA, Dr. Hanumaiah Bandla. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Hanumaiah Bandla will welcome Mr. Chandrababu Naidu (Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh).”
Chandrababu Naidu’s Speech
“I’m thanking Sri Hanumaiah Bandla for asking me to introduce President Clinton. Though I am privileged, it is very difficult to introduce a person who needs no introduction, that too in a span of few minutes. Clinton, we are all aware, very charismatic statesmen, a humanitarian and perhaps the most popular American president that world has ever had. A person who gave the biggest example for all of us, a person born in rural Arkansas in a humble family was able to rise to the world’s highest position is a testimony to the real strength of democracy. He is a role model to emulate. The United States has seen the highest economic growth during his 8 years of governance. He has balanced the federal budget and paid off $360 billion of the national debt and converted the largest budget deficit in American history through the largest surplus…
During his presidency he created more than 22 million jobs. He achieved lowest rate of unemployment in 30 years and lowest for women in 40 years, highest home ownership in American history, lowest crime rate in 26 years, highest incomes at all levels with the equitable wealth distribution with the bottom 20 percent seeing the largest income growth at 16.3 percent, lowest poverty rate in 20 years, lowest infant mortality rate in American history.
He has nominated minorities and women as federal court judges, cabinet members and other government officials. He has provided additional funds for the environment programs and tax credits for college education. And he has left the office with the highest voter approval. That is his credit, we are very happy for this.
All the Telugu people are here and also Indians are here. We are all very happy after long span of time, 20 years gap, that he visited India. He stayed in India three days, even all of us remember his visit. He has created tremendous impact on Indians and also those who are working abroad especially in America.
He spent some wonderful time in Hyderabad, all Telugu people you remember that. He has interacted with self-help groups. And also he stayed with us for three to four hours. Even now, we are unable to forget about all remembrances. When he visited back to America, he asked his governors and politicians to go to India to see how technology, seva, issue of driving licenses and how we handle other issues.
After his visit to India, our people are doing extremely well. For the last nine days, I toured the entire USA and observed the amount of confidence Indians are having, and especially the Telugu people. I am having total confidence today, even in future, Indians especially Telugu people will play very major role not only in employment, but also in all walks of life. All this credit goes to Bill Clinton. He has motivated us. He has inspired us in a big way.
After office also he is very popular. In this TANA conference the crowd is 3,000 people. That shows his charisma, that is his popularity.
Because of constitutional problems, he is unable to contest third time in the United States. He is so popular now. If he contests in India also, he will become the prime minister of India. That is his popularity.
He is a leader, global leader. At the same time, he is very popular all over the world across the boundaries. Now it is his duty to work for the global benefit of the community. I requested him to concentrate on peace mission. Now we are seeing so many problems on religion. The religion has become fanaticism under the process. People hate each other and there is a threat for global peace. He has to take some organization, some platform so that we can concentrate on global peace.
We are all seeing global warming. Environment problems are coming in a big way. Because of environmental problems, there is a threat for survival or existence itself. We are watching poverty. There is poverty in India. There is a clear division between haves and have-nots.
Even in America there is poverty. All of us have to fight poverty. All of us have to work to eradicate AIDS. This is also a big challenge for human survival. These are all the four issues I mentioned with him.
Bill Clinton’s speech
Mr. Naidu gave me a very kind introduction, and also a very wonderful welcome to Andhra Pradesh when I was president. You know, in America we have slightly different political traditions, and when I got to Andhra Pradesh, there were these huge banners all over with his picture and my picture. And I felt like a rock star instead of a politician. And when you’re getting old and gray, to feel like a rock star is a very good thing. So I thank you.
I would like to thank very much the officers, the executive committee, the president, and the president-elect of this fine organization. I would like to thank Dr. Athera John, Krishna Katragadda and others who made my visit here possible today.
I would like to thank all the members of the Telugu community who have made such a remarkable contribution to the United States. And thank you for coming here to celebrate your art and culture, including having the wonderful dancers here when I came on stage. I wish they hadn’t left. Then you could look at them and listen to me and it would be far more interesting. And I would like to thank the ministers who have come here from a long way away from India to be here with me today and for the kind gifts and greetings they brought.
I believe one of the most important objectives that our administration achieved in foreign policy was the repairing of the long rift between the United States and India and building a genuine partnership and friendship. I welcomed former Prime Minister Rao to the White House in 1994, after long years in which we were separated over cold war issues, which had not been relevant for some time. I thought we had an opportunity to work on a number of issues and we did.
I was frankly a little jealous when both my wife and daughter got to go to India during my first term as president; they came home telling me what a wonderful opportunity I had missed. In 2000, I was able to rectify that and…
That, of course, is when I had my great trip to Hyderabad, but I was also honored to address the Indian Parliament, something that I will never forget.
I like the Parliament building, but I must say it would be frightening for an American president to go and to address the United States Congress in an atmosphere in which the members of Congress were so close to the President. Sometimes I think it would lead to encounters not altogether positive.
I was glad in 1999, eight years ago yesterday, on July 4th, our Independence Day, to meet with the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, and do what I could to move the troops of the Pakistani army back across the line of control and to avert a major political crisis and a potential military intervention.
And since I left office, I’ve had three great opportunities to continue to work in India for which I am very, very grateful. After the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001, I was asked by the prime minister to try and help raise funds among Indians in the United States to help to rebuild the villages because hundreds of them had been destroyed. It led to the establishment of something called the American India Foundation, which is now raised almost $40 million for building thousands of homes and hospitals and schools, artisans workshop, marketing of Indian crafts in the United States. It was really quite rewarding.
And, of course, after the tsunami, the president had asked his father and me to try to raise funds and work in that area. And I wound up staying on for two years as United Nation’s coordinator for a tsunami redevelopment and reconstruction. It was rewarding everywhere. Of course, the hardest hit part was Aceh, Indonesia. We made a lot of progress there but – and they ended their civil conflict, but they have a long way to go.
Now, the Thais were hard hit, but they were able to quickly recover because it was a wealthy area. The Maldives basically recovered on the strength of their tourism. Sri Lanka did well until they began to fight with one another again that always impedes recovery. But the best job in restoring, and in diversifying the economy away from the pre-tsunami economy to a new one was done by India.
It was amazing. I watched women, who had been widowed, their fishermen husbands killed, and making candles for Hindu temples. Something that seemed simple, but it was something that had never been done before. And the last time I visited, I visited family after family after family in new storm-resistant housing, much more efficient with good sanitation for the first time ever, with schools that had libraries, and with early warning and rescue systems in place as sophisticated as anything you would find anywhere in the world. So, I would say, in terms of overall rebuilding, so far, India wins the prize. And it was a great honor for me to be there.
But perhaps the most important thing for me personally is the work that I’ve been able to do in India with HIV and AIDS. In two senses, first of all, most of my major partners in providing lifesaving medication around the world are the manufacturers of generic drugs in India, the big ones like Cipla and Ranbaxy, but also smaller companies. We have one South African partner and increasingly others want to come. But the Indian companies were producing state of the art, world-class quality medicine that when I started it cost on average about $500 a person a year. We paid $10,000 a person a year in America. The Europeans and Canadians pay 3,500 for the same drugs we pay $10,000 and which is why the American pharmaceutical companies oppose Americans as being able to re-import drugs from Canada.
Something terrible happens to American medicine when it goes to Canada – some virus infection. And if you take it when it comes back across the border, you will drop dead immediately. The Canadians have a remarkable resistance to this virus; they do very well with our drugs across the border. But the point is, the world could not afford it, even in the poorest countries in the world, the discount price was about $1,000 or $1,500.
So, we went to the Indian companies and we said, you know, even at $500 a year are there bulk prices when if you bought by then what at that time was a big volume, you could get maybe $350 price. It was still operating on the model of a small jewelry store. Do you know how a jewelry store in America operates? You have to have a whole lot of inventory and it cost a lot of money to maintain the inventory. If you don’t sell much, so you have to have a big markup. Also, some people who buy diamond rings may not be able to make all the payments, and then you have to undertake the expense of getting the ring back.
So I said to them, “This is too big a business. There are six-and-a-half million people who need this medicine.” At that time in developing countries, only 70,000 people outside Brazil where the government purchased it all, we’re getting [AIDS] medicine.
So, I said, “Suppose we went to a grocery store model where we have high volume, low profit margins for sale and absolutely certain payment. I’ll raise the money, guarantee the payment, but we got to get big volumes.” They kept the prices to $139 a person a year. You should be very proud of that. Every Indian in the world should be proud of that.
Then, we did the same thing with children’s medicine, which was $600 a person a year because the children’s volumes were so small. But every year, over 500,000 children die of AIDS who could live if they had the medicine. And the adult medicine doesn’t work so well. It’s not like an Aspirin, you can’t just cut it in half and give the smaller portion to a child and expect it to work. So, we went from $600 to $190. Then, the French imposed a small airline tax to create a fund to buy medicines to combat serious illnesses of all kinds around the world called UNITAID. And 19 other countries gave them some money. So, they asked me to buy the medicine for children with HIV and AIDS. The price is now $60, from $600 to $60.
Now, as a result of that, we have operated healthcare programs in 25 countries, including India. I’ll say more about that in a minute. And we sell this medicine in 68 countries where the World Health Organization says the healthcare system will distribute the medicine and monitor it and test for its impact properly.
When we started, as I said, there were only 70,000 people in the world getting this medicine. Today, there are about 2.4 million people getting the medicine. And one full third of that – a third of all of the people in the world getting this medicine — are getting it from these contracts made possible because Indian drug manufacturers changed their business model. Seven-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people who will live including the overwhelming majority of all the children on earth are getting AIDS medicine. I hope that you are all very proud of that.
It’s been an honor for me also to work in India working on building networks for children’s healthcare, for care of adults. We’re giving thousands upon thousands of people the medicine. We have now trained 55,000 physicians in 13 states with 1,100 training sessions. And we have a curriculum now we’ve developed with I-Tech for hospitals and ERT nurse training centers that, I believe, will eventually in the next year or so give us a nationwide coverage along with the funds, along with the medicine manufactured in India to make India the first developed country with a large AIDS population to in effect be able to treat everybody. I hope that will happen, and I’m looking forward to it.
Now, why are you here and why do I do that? That’s what I want to talk about for a few minutes. What does all this mean? How did all this happen? Most people, who lived at White House, as I did, go out and, you know, play golf and make a few speeches. And I didn’t because I thought it would have been immoral given the life I’d had but also because I think this is more interesting and more important and more fulfilling. But I see all of you here and I read in the press all the time about the stories about outsourcing which bothers me but what about all the insourcing. Look at what you did for America. Look at how many of you are here. How many jobs you’ve created? How many people work for you?
And I think – so I want you to think with me just for a few minutes about what this entire means. What is good about the globalized world of the 21st century and what are its major problems? Because in different versions, you find every good and bad thing going on not only in India but in the United States. The modern world is obviously full of opportunity. It rewards intellect and imagination and vision and training and entrepreneurial skill with open borders, easy travel, easy immigration. You see these things happening all over the world. We are increasingly bound together. And with more than a trillion dollars crossing national borders every year, even if we repeat all the trade agreements in the world, you couldn’t stop a lot of these globalization and mobility.
So, the really important thing to do is to say what’s good about it and how do we accelerate it and what are the problems and how do we reduce them. Well, what’s good about it is self-evident. If there weren’t a lot of good things about it, you couldn’t have afforded the plane tickets to come here today. Think about it. The prosperity enjoyed by the Indian community in the United States is evidence of what is good about the global economy.
The ability to cherish your traditions and your heritage to preserve your culture, your language, your faith and still be integrated into different societies all across the world is evidence of what’s good about the global economy and consistent with the vision Gandhi had when India was established in the first place. That’s also true.
And many Americans have been a part of this, in ways large and small. I have a cousin who lives in the mountains of North Arkansas, in the middle of America, who played chess once a week on the Internet with a man in Australia. They took turns deciding who had to stay up all night long to conduct these chess matches. And they quit after a couple of years because they were both sleep deprived. But it’s an example of the kind of connections that can be used to bring the world together and to move the world to a better place.
Now, what are the problems with this world? Essentially three, it is unequal and in many places growing more unequal, unequal in income, education and health outcomes. It is insecure because acts of violence can quickly destabilize the kinds of information based on web-like economies that have generated so much publicity of so much prosperity, insecure in terms of terror, weapons and mass destruction, and traditional conflicts. How much more prosperous would India and Pakistan be if they didn’t have to maintain nuclear arsenals and increase defense spending every year. How much better would it be?
You know, I think about how many poor people would there be? You know, I could go before a group of Pakistanis living in America and see doctors and business people and high-tech people and people who have Indian friends in their home communities and they’re doing very well here. I tell everybody – I think of the Pales – these Palestinians, big story out of Palestine today, you know, is the Hamas and the Fatah are fighting each other. And 90 people were killed, so that Hamas could gain a great military victory in Gaza taking over the security headquarters of Fatah.
Does anybody here ever been to Gaza? I’ve actually been there. The military headquarters that they took over would fit in about 25 percent of this room. And it’s not nearly as nice. And you have a million people there packed into Gaza living in abject poverty. On 43 kilometers of this most beautiful beachfront in the world, nothing in the south of France is better than the Gaza beach. No beach facing the Mediterranean is better. The only difference is they play war games in Gaza and in the south of France.
I know lots of Palestinians. I do not know a single poor Palestinian outside the territories. Every Palestinian I personally know is a college professor or a millionaire. The Palestinians dominate the flower trade in Chile. They have the highest per capita income in Ecuador. They do well all over the world, except at home. Why because they fight. So, this is an insecure world. And violence and insecurity undermines the opportunities of the integrated world of the 21st century.
And the third problem we have is it is an unsustainable world because of the undeniable realities of climate change and resource depletion. Almost everybody accepts the reality of climate change now and the only big fight is who should do what and when about it, and how soon is it going to be bad? And can a country grow rich, stay rich and get richer and reduce its greenhouse gases? But before the worst impacts of climate change hit, I believe we will experience serious problems of resource depletion. Already a billion people in the world have no access to clean water, two-and-a-half billion no access to sanitation. The tsunami was terrible, as I said, but one of the things that was built back better is that there were people in India and elsewhere and for the first time in their lives had access to sanitary facilities because of the rebuilding efforts.
One of four of all deaths on earth every year occurred from AIDS, TB, malaria, and infections related to dirty water. Almost no one in America will die of any of those things this year. This is an unequal world made worse by resource depletion. The amount of clean water is drying up. Topsoil is being blown away.
If you’ve been to Beijing lately, you know, it probably has the worst air quality of any major city in the world because it has localized air pollution and because the prevailing winds in China there blow from north to south. And what used to be a breadbasket north of Beijing has been turned into a virtual desert by the destruction of the topsoil. So that the localized air pollution is like a big soccer net collecting billions of soccer balls of dust everyday making it difficult for people to breathe. We’re looking topsoil. We’re losing trees.
Ninety percent of the world’s fishing centers are under stocked today and only partly because they’ve been overfished. Partly it’s because the ocean is trying bravely to absorb more greenhouse gases, more CO2 offensively, as we cut down trees and put more CO2 in the air. The ocean tries to take up the slack to keep our planet in balance. And in doing so, it changes the chemical composition of the water, destroying sometimes barely microscopic elements in the food chain of fish. All these things are happening together. Meanwhile, because of newfound prosperity, the world’s prosperity population is expected to grow between from now and 2015 in the next 43 years from its current level of six-and-a-half billion to nine billion because we can keep babies alive better. But most of that growth will occur in countries that can now afford to give every member a good standard of living.
So, I was amused is the wrong word. I don’t want to trivialize this but I found a certain unreal quality to the debate in the Congress recently over what should be done about illegal immigration because the world took 150,000 years to go from one person standing up on the African Savanna to its current population of six-and-a-half billion, but will take only 43 years to go to nine billion. So, if you believe that illegal immigration is a problem today, just take care of yourself, live another 20 years and you will see something that you couldn’t even imagine.
So this is an unsustainable world. So in our relations with each other and within our own communities and nations, we have to go beyond an interdependence that is unequal, unstable and unsustainable. We have to build integrated communities of shared opportunities, a shared sense of responsibility for success, a genuine sense of belonging so that we do something about these three problems. The good news is we actually know how to do a lot of this. We know what it would cost to put every child in school that is not in school. And you know what, if the wealthy countries of the world chose to pay for it, we know that it wouldn’t be an aid. It would be an investment in the world’s future.
We also know what it would cost to build effective health systems to deal with AIDS, TB, malaria, other tropical diseases, maternal and child health. And it should be seen not as aid, but as an investment in a common future. When I was a young boy barely old enough to be aware in the late 1940s, there were still places in my home state in Arkansas that had a per capita income of only half the national average. There were places in my home state that had no electricity that had only well water, no running water, had no sanitation, even it had no telephones. There were a few rural places that had no telephones in my lifetime. Soon enough all those places were rich, those remote, rural villages that were quite poor. No one thought of it as aid because we were all in one nation. It was viewed as an investment. That’s the way the world has to look at every place that needs income, education and healthcare. It’s an investment because we’re all tied together. We know how to do that.
In terms of the world becoming more unsustainable because of climate change, I happen to believe that dealing with the energy problem is the greatest opportunity we have to remove the tension about outsourcing. And to the root of the outsourcing tension in the United States is the median wages in our country that have been stagnant more or less since 1973, except for the last five years of my presidency when they rose and inequality went down.
Now, why did that happen? I’d like to tell you it happened because I was an economic genius and had wonderful policies. Yes, maybe a little bit. But no, the real reason it happened is that in the late 1990s, and many of you were part of this, in the second half of that decade, information technology moved out of Silicon Valley into every aspect of the American economy. Some of the most successful companies in Texas, for example, are videogame companies. Videogame companies are nothing but sophisticated information technology companies. And they created enormous economic opportunity, so much that it was only 8 percent of our jobs but 28 percent of our job growth and over a third of our income growth came from one source rifling throughout the economy, changing all the averages and lifting the public at large.
No rich country, whatever its trade policies, can maintain a strong middle class unless every five to eight years it has a source of new jobs. Now, if you look at India, what’s the challenge there? Why did Mr. Singh win an election in which the previous government, Mr. Vajpayee government, was presiding over 9 percent growth? Because the 9 percent growth was concentrated in 350 million Indian lives, including the ones you led, sir, in Andhra Pradesh. But the other 600 to 650 million Indians didn’t feel that they were part of it. So the Congress party went out and organized them and got them all to come to vote.
But how do you take an engine like the IT revolution, which has powered so much of India’s growth, and move it from the one-third who can access it to the two-thirds who feel further and further and further away from a reality that many of you take for granted. If you think about it, it’s your version of the outsourcing problem, your version of America’s problem where we have a 40-year high in corporate profits, an all time high in the stock market. Our workers’ productivity is going up every year but wages are flat and poverty among working people is going up in America, and so is the absence of health care among people who work. So the inequality is getting greater even as the prosperity figures overall look good. It is the great threat to democracies everywhere and a great challenge of all modern societies.
Think about energy. In the industrial era, it was true that you could not grow rich, stay rich, and get richer without putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It is now manifestly not true. Look at tiny Denmark. In the last few years, Denmark has grown its economy by 50 percent. Wages are rising for everybody, inequality is going down, and they have a lot of immigrants in Denmark.
Why has that happened? How did they grow their economy 50 percent and reduce inequality? It is because they created a lot of new jobs. How did they do it? How much has energy increased in Denmark, while their economy grew 50 percent? Answer is zero. Not one extra watt of electricity. How much have greenhouse gases increased? Answer, they have gone down. How? It is because, now, 22 percent of their electricity is generated from wind, highest percentage in the world. You say, oh, well, they only have five million people. It doesn’t apply to India.” So we’ll go to the United Kingdom, the economy most like America’s.
The UK’s unemployment rate is about what America’s is. And as we all know, they have lots of immigrants, right? People from all over the world, they’re making a living. Unlike America, however, their median incomes are going up and they have had no increase in inequality in this decade. Why? Because when the United States walked away from the Kiyoto climate change treaty, saying it would be the end of the world if we agree to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the British said, “we like this agreement, but it’s too weak. We will beat our targets by 25 to 50 percent.” And they will. As a result of which, they have created a huge number of new high-skilled, high-wage jobs, which have kept inequality from increasing, even as people have claimed their gains from the global economy there just as they have in India and the United States.
Now, consider what would happen among the 650 million Indians living in rural India if India produced all of its own fuel? And if you run every vehicle, everything in the world that runs in India but jet airplanes on biofuels, all generated in India. More money for the farmers, food-processing manufacturing, biofuel facilities every 50 or 100 miles because you can’t transport it long distances without using it – losing it, a new tax based to build decent roads and sewer systems and water systems. What if you decided that India should become or should displace Japan as the number one producer of solar energy or should displace Germany as the number one producer of wind energy? You wouldn’t hurt the Germans because they still need the wind. They still manufacture a lot. And these jobs are not easily outsourceable.
I just agreed to work with 40 of the biggest cities in the world; including Mumbai and Delhi, to prove that we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that creates jobs not cost jobs. And we started…
We started with the program we announced last month in New York to retrofit buildings with solar power, with wind power, with new glass, and with new lighting. And to do this all over the world, we can finance such things in New York, but every city cannot. So, I went to five banks and got them each to commit $1 billion. That more than doubled – what’s this, this is how little. You know, $5 billion is not much money in Hyderabad anymore. You know, that’s not much money. That’s not a great deal of money on the global scheme of things, but this is how pitifully developed we are in this fight. That more than doubled the amount of capital available for retrofitting buildings and making them energy efficient in the entire developing world – the entire world.
Now, what can we do with that? Well, suppose you decided that you were going to abolish incandescent light bulbs in India? Then you could set up factories to make compact fluorescent ones or light emitting diode bulbs, creating more jobs, and jobs for people who don’t necessarily have university degrees. Then someone has to go and install them, someone has to sell them, and someone has to transport them from one place to the next. This is a huge deal. There’s a bill in the United States Congress today to ban incandescent light bulbs in the next 10 years. Do you know what impact it would have in America? It would reduce the need; eliminate the need for 80, 8-0, 80 coal-fired power plants – just changing the light bulbs.
And instead of hurting people’s jobs, it would create more jobs, huge numbers of jobs. So, I would like to modestly propose that what we really need in India is an economic strategy to bring the benefits of the one-third to the other two-thirds. In America, we need a strategy to create enough jobs so that outsourcing is not a problem. If we retrofitted every building in New York City where I live, there are 950,000 buildings in New York City. And let’s say we wanted to green the roofs, that’s a big strategy. In any hot climate, you should put something, besides a tar surface on the roof. Put any kind of living vegetation on the roof, you can cut the temperature on a hot day drastically.
In New York, on a 90-degree day, every one of our old roofs with a tar surface will reach a temperature of 150 degrees. If you green it, you seal it, so it doesn’t leak and then you put sod down, the maximum temperature drops from 150 to 80. That drastically changes the energy requirements in that building. And for our people, it cuts the utility bills dramatically of residence and small businesses and others accessing these buildings.
Now, I tell all my friends in New York, you can’t outsource those jobs. Don’t worry about India; someone has to be standing on the roof. And there are jobs like that everywhere. So, think about all the things that can be done in India for the 650 million that the 350 million can’t do because a physical presence is required. This is the way the world should be thinking on this and so many other issues. We have to find win-win solutions. We have to deal with inequality, we have to deal with instability, and we have to deal with insecurity. And it just happens that in this decade, the answer should be energy. In the next decade, there will be another answer. And the young people here will figure out what it is.
And this brings me to my last point, I think the most important challenge of the world is how we think and feel and teach our children to think and feel. The biggest external challenges we face today are all related to resource allocation, inequality, climate change, conflicts. But a lot of them are rooted in how we think and feel. America has been following a foreign policy in the last few years that basically says we will act alone when we can and cooperate when we have to. In an interdependent world, you have to cooperate whenever you can and act alone only when you’re forced to. It’s the way you think; it’s a thinking pattern. It’s also an emotional preference.
Let me give you another example. There was just exceedingly traumatic event in London when I was there. You know, where they found all these car bombs. And it appears that the bombs were implanted by a coalition of people who met through medical contacts. Doctors who were supposed to be spending their lives making people well or keeping them from getting sick decided that they should become instruments of death. Now, these people were apparently British citizens or at least several of them were, even though their homes were somewhere else. When the London subway and bus bombings occurred, all the people who perpetrated that were British citizens, not people who came from somewhere else as what we experienced on 9/11.
You have it in India when the Muslims and Hindus fight in the western part of the country when the beautiful mosque was blown up and where should the temple to Rama be established, all these things. All this is about one thing. It is the central challenge of the 21st century world. More important, I would argue, even in dealing with climate change, identity. Identity. How do you define your life in relation to others? How do you do it intellectually? How do you do it emotionally?
Most of you are incredibly prosperous in part because of your phenomenal capacity to make distinctions. And for all, we all know that the – what we call in America the Arabic number system is the Indian number system. We know that sort of legendary facility of Indians going to the beginning of mathematics, to the triumph in information technology. All of that is about the ability to imagine distinctions.
You come here to celebrate the language and culture of your people. And it’s important to you and it should be. The question is when you make all these distinctions; at what point for that distinction to matter do you have to make a negative reference to someone else? Why do people need not only need to think worst of someone else, to think well of themselves? Why do people believe that their success requires someone else’s defeat? How hardwired are our brains over millennia of development to create emotional reactions as well as intellectual ones that are territorial and that see all life’s distinctions as zero sum games?
Look, throughout most of the history, there have been absolutely good reasons for seeing some people as threats and as enemies. The whole history of humanity is basically the story of wider and wider and wider and wider circles of interdependence. But when you first meet the other in the next circle, there is conflict. And we like all these differences. We would certainly don’t want to homogenize the world. America is so much more interesting a place today than it was 30 years ago because we have people from everywhere here. And we know that all these distinctions and these differences add the search for truth and help us to push back the barriers of all the problems we have.
But when we believe that our distinctions are so important that they obliterate the significance of our common humanity, in an interdependent world, we are bound for constant trouble because we cannot escape each other. So, just think about it. Think of what Sri Lanka could become, India’s neighbor. If the Hindu Tamils and the Sinhalese Buddhist did not believe their differences were irreconcilable. And so they fight on. How crazy is it that Gaza and the West Bank, a tiny place? Now, they don’t even have time to fight the Israelis anymore, they’re too busy fighting themselves. How plagued is the Middle East by the Salafi Sunni ideology, which says we have to kill the near enemy before we can get around to the far enemy? And the near enemy are the Shia, and the weak Sunnis who don’t understand how morally superior we are and don’t agree with every last ritual and lifestyle choice we made. So we want to wipe all of them out and then we get around the Israelis and then we’ll come after the Americans and the Europeans and anybody else.
And there are people who seriously believe this, people die every day. And they’re not stupid people. It’s not easy to, you know, you put these little roadside bombs together and then you have to time them and you want to make sure you hit them right when the vehicles are going over so you just blow the limbs of, people now older than your own children. And it’s always more expensive in going to war. This is a huge deal everywhere, identity. I want you to think about it.
Gandhi understood this. He had this vision of India, which was heartbreaking in the beginning when Pakistan separated. But now, we know something we didn’t know when Gandhi was there. Gandhi knew from the depths of his soul about our common humanity. So, none of us were that great, but we don’t have to be that great anymore. We are on this little bitty planet. There are – and we now know — there are hundreds of billions of planets in the universe. We just learned of planets – they have conditions that may be mirrored in a planet orbiting one of the 20 solar systems closest to us. It’s 20 million light-years away so we’ll never know if there’s life on that planet, lest we got a family or two willing to commit four generations to space travel. We have to wait for them to come to us.
But the whole world’s future comes down to this. How do we identify ourselves? How did we learn to make distinctions without which we couldn’t navigate – I couldn’t get off this stage if I didn’t know the difference between high and low. Our whole mankind, and our whole being is wired toward making distinctions that make all progress possible, that make all learning possible, that make all relationships possible — between men and women and tall and short, and old and young. That’s how our brains work. But, if we lose the sense that our common humanity matters more in a world where everything is related, then all the things I have said today about climate change, healthcare, education, and everything else is totally irrelevant. And every little feeble effort I’ve made in my life to bring people together, while others are trying to tear them apart will be a pathetic failure.
That is what I ask you to think about. India can take the prosperity of the 350 million to the other 650 million. America can heal the gaps caused by the globalization of the economy. We can deal with all these challenges. They’re easily solvable intellectually. The resources are there. What is keeping us from it is an inadequate sense of identity, a sense of belonging that we belong together.
In Africa, where I do a lot of my AIDS work, one of the countries where we work, the typical tribal greeting goes something like this: someone says, “Hello, how are you, good morning.” Instead of saying, “I’m fine, how are you?” The answer is, “I see you.” Think of that. Think of that. Think about all the people we never see, all of us, not just terrorists, all of us. And we all leave here today, someone is going to have to come in and clean this up. And I promise you a lot of the people who will fold these chairs feel – or carry them off and fold the tables up and feel it. People don’t see them.
When I made my last trip to Indonesia, my next to last trip, I went to one of these camps where 40,000 people were still living in tent camps. And you know how hot it was, it was so hot. They were living in these awful tents. So there were few thousand of people in this little tent camp. And every camp had an elected leader. So, with the U.N. envoy, I had to go and listen to them tell me their problems and try to solve them. I met the leader and his wife and his son. And my interpreter was there, a nice young Indonesian woman who had been a television personality and had been in this camp before. So I looked at this family, and I looked down at this boy and I just gasped. He was so beautiful. The child was beautiful. These luminous dark eyes, and the beautiful smile. And I said to the lady, I said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more beautiful child.” My interpreter said, “Oh, he’s a very beautiful boy.” Before the tsunami, he had nine brothers and sisters they’re all gone.
The husband who lost nine of his children takes me through the camp, never one word about his loss, only about the needs of the people in the camp and what can be done – only. Then, at the end of the tour, we finished at the health clinic, which was very important to me. We’d work hard to reinstate health systems. And I look up and the leader was there, his wife comes up who had lost nine of her children holding this baby, a two-day-old baby. In the Indonesian culture, when a woman has a baby, she gets to go to bed for 40 days, waited on hand and foot. And then on the 41st day, she gets up and then names the baby. Interesting tradition.
But here was this woman who’d lost nine of her children holding this baby with a smile on her face. She said this is our newest baby. And we want you to name him. So I said to her, “Well, do you have a word that means new beginning?” She said – so they talk to the interpreter the lady and she said, “Yes, lucky for you, in our language the word Dawn, the coming of the morning, is a boy’s name, not a girl’s. We will name this boy Dawn and he will symbolize our new beginning.”
Now, I thought to myself, first of all, it was one of the most wonderful moments of my life. I thought I never have had a problem. I hated it for every time I had felt sorry for myself. What I really thought is why do we had to be confronted with someone who’s lost nine of their 10 children, had the courage to go on and cherish the one they had left, and had the heart to name a newborn baby Dawn? Why do we have to hear a story like that to feel our common humanity? Why can’t we rewire ourselves so that we live this way every day and we see this all the time?
So I leave you with this. Sometime in the 21st century, the Indian and the Chinese economies and if they continue to grow together, the European economies will all be bigger than the American economy. Sometime in the 21st century, we will face crunch time with climate change and resource depletion. Sometime in the 21st century, we’ll have to figure out what in the wild world are we going to do with nine billion people or if we finally start educating women properly, it will be less, maybe seven-and-a-half billion. We’re going to have to figure out what to do with all this.
Why do we do any of it and whether our grandchildren can be in a meeting like this 50 years from now depends on identity? And whether we think our interesting differences are not nearly as important as our common humanity. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the smarter we get, the simpler our choices become.
Dr. Hema Prasad Yadla’s Speech
“Mr. President, you indeed made our dreams come true today. We have been working on this for the past one-year with the help of Telugu brothers Krishna Prasad and David Prasad. This is one of the days we can write in the history of the annals of Telugu pride.
Mr. President, there will be volumes written to describe the achievements of your presidency, your compassion for the underdogs is only imagined by your remarkable ability to help them, while dealing with all the odds and harnessing all the strengths in the most creative way. Your presence in our time has been a stabilizing factor and a blessing for humanity.
Mr. President, we the Telugu people now gathered here in the land of great American people do realize the dreams what every human being desires. For this, we thank our ancestral homeland, which enabled us to participate in the struggle for life shoulder-to-shoulder with great American people.
Mr. President, I have to tell a story from your book so everybody will buy that book and read it. In this struggle, our stories are not much different than your stories, especially one I would like to mention. We know your encounter with a burglar and how you wrote him a letter. One night, one of our colleagues was sleeping at night in his still unfinished home with no doors and no assets when a burglar came in the dark and was leaving the scene quite disappointed after sifting through some empty boxes. The poor owner commented to the burglar, “Man, I don’t find anything here in the daylight and you expect to find it in the dark.”
Thank you all. Thanks for making our day, Mr. President.”
Katragadda Krishna Prasad and David Prasad presented a check of $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
T ELUGU PALUKU – SOUVENIR
Editor: Jakkampudi Subbaraidu
Important article: History of TANA by Dr. Guttikonda Ravindranath
Writers: Chinna Jeeyar Swamy, T. Gowrishankar, Jayanthi Ramaiah Panthulu, K. K. Ranganatha Charyulu, Ansuya Reddy, Buddiga Subbarayan, Kolichala Suresh, Avula Manjulatha, C. Dharma Rao, A.B.K. Prasad, Ramesh, Chekuri Ramarao, Tadikonda Sivakumara Sarma, Induru Niranjan, Kalalapudi Manjusha, Tirumala Krishnadesikacharyulu, K. Sivareddy, Sailajamitra, Kandukuri Sriramulu, Meka Ramarao, Sonti Saradapurna, Seemanapalli Vijayalakshmi, Vamdluri Sudhakar, Chakalakonda Ramakantharao, Kalluri Siva Raju, Kolagotla Suryaprakasa Rao, Perugu Ramakrishna, Avaala Damodara Reddy, Vedula China Venkata Chayamalu, Nannapaneni Aakineedu, Jandhyala Jayakrishna Bapuji, Battula Subrahmanyam, Tallapragada Purna, Yalamanchili Gandhiji, Katari Nehru, Puligandla Ramakrishna, Konduri Ramasarma, Sahavasi, Inganti Venkata Rao, Vajhjhu Babu Rao, Tripuraneni Venkateswara Rao, Yarlagadda Balagangadhara Rao, Vaddemgunta Ankaiah, Kommineni Venkataramaiah, Acharya N.G. Ranga, Tummala Sitharamamurthy Chowdary, Jakkampudi Sitha Rama Rao, Volga, Nadella Guruprasada Rao, Papineni Sivasankar, Totakura Satyanarayana Raju, Narisetti Innaiah, Parunam Srinivasa Rao, Battula Subrahmanyam, Nagnath, Sonti Saradapurna, Mukkamala Appa Rao, M. Ramamurthy, Damarla Priyanka, Swamy Chidatmananda, Yarlagadda Kimira.