This interview

"The U.S. has gained enormously from Indian students who have come to study here as well. Over the past two decades roughly one million Indian post-secondary students have been educated in the U.S. and they contributed to U.S. competitiveness in science, in technology. My advice to student is that pursuing higher education in USA is definitely a good thing but while doing this you must keep in mind national interest." - Mr. Chavan

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"I have particularly enjoyed teaching and working with young people, and that has taken various forms over the years, both in the classroom and outside of the university. Nothing is more exciting than the exchange of ideas with others who are engaged in questioning and pushing the boundaries of knowledge."
-John Hennessy, President of Stanford University


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Interview with The Honorable Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, India

June 18, 2012

The Honorable Mr. Prithviraj Chavan is the current and 26th Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra in India, since 11 November 2010. Prior to taking over as the Chief Minister, as a Minister of State in the Government of India, he was responsible for six portfolios/ministries, the highest by any minister in the government, including PMO (Prime Minister's Office), Science and Technology, Earth sciences, Parliamentary affairs, Public grievances and Pension and Ministry of Personnel, which includes the CBI (Central Beaureau of Investigation). Earlier he was also the Minister Of State in charge of the Department Of Atomic Energy. Mr. Chavan was elected to Lok Sabha (the lower house of Indian Parliament) from Karad in 1991, 1996 and 1998. He was elected to Rajya Sabha (the upper house of Indian Parliament) in 2002 and 2008. Presently he is a member of Maharashtra Legislative Council, elected unopposed. After returning from USA, Mr. Chavan founded a research facility to develop special purpose computers and military electronic equipment. After his MS degree from Berkeley, he worked as an Aerospace Engineer in the USA.

Mr. Chavan holds a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India and a Masters degree in Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He has published articles in the areas of Computer Science; Engineering Design, and also contributed to research in computerization of Indian languages. He has served as a Member of IIT council. The Chief Minister likes cricket, tennis, badminton, table tennis, chess, golf and reading. He admires Steve Jobs and is a Mac user! Honorable Mr. Chavan, Thank you for talking to to It is our privilege to interview you.
The Honorable Mr. Chavan You are welcome.

app2us: Please let us know the highlights of your term as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Mr. Chavan: Since I took charge as Chief Minister of Maharashtra, I have been concentrating on creating confidence among the people of a clean and transparent administration as well as taking it on a path of accelerated development. There are challenges in various sectors like Industry, Agriculture, Employment, Education and urban development. To keep regional imbalance and improve Human Development Index are also two important things on our agenda towards which we have taken certain steps.

Maharashtra is facing several challenges. Sustaining high growth, through enhancing agricultural productivity though wider irrigation coverage, addressing agrarian unrest and malnutrition, meeting challenges of urbanization and infrastructure deficit, Naxalism and terrorism are daunting tasks which are being tackled by the Government While addressing the local problems, efforts are being made to bring global experience innovations and investment for the development of the State. I have to handle issues ranging from Nuclear Power Plant at Jaitapur in Konkan region to environment clearance for infrastructure projects and to touching the core theme of human development for achieving inclusive growth of the State.

These issues are complex and the process to address them is difficult, considering the financial, environmental and socio-political ramifications. The expectations of the people and particularly of different political groups are very high and their demands are pressing. The approach adopted by my Government to meet these expectations and demands is to take general policy decisions, which would give benefits to community at large.

A detailed list of work is being sent for your readers. [Details of Policies of his Government]

app2us: What are the top priorities of your administration?
Mr. Chavan: I always say, while giving emphasis on various activities, we should focus on human face of the development. We have decided to give priorities for the upliftment of downtrodden, poor and farmers. Our priority is to enable people to move away from agriculture to agro industry, agro services and allied agriculture for economic opportunity and incomes. To engage aggressively in capacity building through universal access to education and expansion of vocational training, to take industry and therefore employment to the hinterland, to improve the living conditions of the people by ensuring food security, housing, health, drinking water supply and sanitation facilities for all the people through our flagship programs.

app2us: In your career as a politician, in what ways has your Engineering background and US education been an asset?
Mr. Chavan: Definitely! Being an engineer you have a different perception and are more rational on any topic concerned with development.

app2us: You have been a minister for the Government of India in more than 6 ministries, which one of those responsibilities was most exciting and why?
Mr. Chavan: I enjoyed every responsibility entrusted upon me. Naturally, as an engineer and a technocrat I loved to work in Ministry of Science and Technology and earth Sciences. I have successfully contributed in bringing some improvement in technical education, computerisation in Indian languages to update all land and revenue records. The subjects like youth welfare and popularization of science were also a challenge for me.

app2us: How was your work experience in the US?
Mr. Chavan: I worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry in Palo Alto, in Silicon Valley, which is the birthplace of the IT industry. I was designing military equipment that required defense certification. Among other work, I had designed a video recorder for anti-submarine warfare. Those were exciting times and we used to hear about people like Steve Jobs.

app2us: What motivated you to return to India?
Mr. Chavan: Mainly due to my father's falling health. Later, I was drawn into politics because of Late Mr. Rajivji Gandhi. My parents were political leaders but my heart was in Aerospace Engineering. But my life took a dramatic turn when I had a chance meeting with Rajivji. His charisma was such that I have decided to follow my parents into politics.

app2us: In many cases the youth is not very much interested in getting involved in politics due to lack of inspirational role models. In that context, how important is it for highly qualified people like you to take up politics?
Mr. Chavan: India really needs a good leader to lead and uplift the country; and it can be made with the help of talented, educated, & holistic peoples. So there is nothing wrong in entering politics.

app2us: Your advice to young people aspiring to pursue higher education in the USA?
Mr. Chavan: There is an urgency about expanding post-secondary education in today's knowledge-based global job market. I also believe in the international exchange programs. They are economically vital and culturally invaluable. The U.S.-India partnership in higher education is a great example. It has a long storied history. The India Fulbright program was established in 1950 in a bilateral treaty signed by Prime Minister Nehru. It has benefited many students.

The U.S. has gained enormously from Indian students who have gone to study there. Over the past two decades roughly one million Indian post-secondary students have been educated in the U.S. and they contributed to U.S. competitiveness in science, in technology. My advice to student is that pursuing higher education in USA is definitely a good thing but while doing this you must keep in mind your national interest.

app2us: Mr. Chief Minister, Thank you very much for your time.
Mr. Chavan: Thanks a lot.

We thank Mr. Satish Lalit, Government of Maharashtra, for his kind help with the coordination of this interview.

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