Whenever we hear the words “Guest Talk” most of us groan because so far the only purpose guest lectures have served are:
– eating up into our personal time, which we would otherwise spend sleeping, etc.
– drinking good tea and getting decent pastries
– a good place to sleep and not be afraid of the consequences of getting caught.
However, today was a welcome change from the run-of-the-mill guest lectures. We had Mr Robert Blake, Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy at New Delhi coming down all the way to Indore to give a talk on Indo-US Bilateral Relations.
There we were expecting an American to come and deliver the usual stuff which none of us ever pay attention to. But then, we were in for a few surprises.
Firstly, he finished his talk in a little more than 20-25 minutes, which is a good way off from the usual quota of 45-60 minutes most guest talks take. Then he went on to take questions from us, to which he replied with the utmost candor and honesty. The questions ranged from
– backlash against outsourcing of services to India
– methods to improve people-to-people contacts between the two countries
– how trade and economic indicators pointed to both countries having a great future together
– WTO issues regarding agriculture and the related Singapore issues
Plus the fact that he took most questions including the controversial ones on Iraq and Afghanistan well and managed to bring his diplomatic skills to the fore in answering them made the proceedings quite interesting. The way he handled the WTO question was also quite educative.
At the end of it all, I’m sure most of us had the feeling of 75 well-spent minutes. I sincerely wish the Institute would arrange more useful guest talks like these.