India via Ivy League: Arun Jaitley to be at Columbia, Harvard soon after Rahul Gandhi at Princeton, Berkeley

India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will swing by at two Ivy League campuses before docking in Washington DC for the annual outsize ritual of IMF-World Bank communion just a few yards away from Donald Trump’s digs in the American capital.

Jaitley speaks at Columbia University on October 10 and at Harvard on October 11. At Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Jaitley speaks on "Policies and Initiatives For Promoting Growth and Investment in India," in a morning session.

Next, he delivers the annual Mahindra Lecture at Harvard’s South Asia Institute (SAI), which is headed by Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley / PTI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley / PTI

Last month, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi spoke first at UC Berkeley in the West Coast. What got the party excited is that he did not make a Rahul Gandhi of himself. Gandhi then spoke to a 100 people in Room 399 at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School before his minders whisked him away citing security reasons.

Clearly, the bazaar for sound bytes via Ivy League is booming. In this day and age of Facebook Live and Periscope, millions get these statements without constraints on time zone and adverts (Gandhi's Berkeley event was on social media, the one at Princeton wasn't). On their part, the speakers get the kick of addressing a thoughtful, if small, audience without the sort of interruption and sloganeering a comparable event would elicit at home.

Taken together, Rahul Gandhi plus Arun Jaitley would have covered four out of eight Ivy League colleges - Berkeley, Princeton, Columbia and Harvard - in less than 60 days.

Yale, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia and Princeton form the league of eight which embraces a wide sweep of connotations including but not limited to academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, social elitism and a common high-water mark for scholarship and athetics. Stanley Woodward, New York Herald Tribune sports writer, coined the phrase in the nineteen thirties.

Jaitley will be coming off a week of hectic political mudslinging over the economic “slowdown” in India. Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, who is Jaitley’s compatriot in India’s ruling party the BJP tore into the incumbent FM in a stinger op-ed titled, "I need to speak up now."

An annoyed Jaitley hit back against the forcibly retired octogenarian, stating that Sinha was in the queue for a government job. The networks had a field day as did political commentators and professional spokespersons in BJP and the Congress.

Related links: Our complete coverage of the run-up to the Fund-Bank meetings in Washington D.C

Updated Date: Oct 08, 2017 00:02 AM

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