Message from the Executive Director

A Little More Knowledge, A Little More Reason, A Little More Compassion

Fulbright: 70 Years of Educational Exchanges in India

Trying to convey the significance of the cultural exchange programs that bear his name, Senator J. William Fulbright said that they are not merely “one of those nice but marginal activities in which we engage in international affairs, but rather, from the standpoint of future world peace and order, probably the most important and potentially rewarding of our foreign-policy activities.” Senator Fulbright’s words are especially compelling at a time when we are constantly reminded of how intensely contested and competitive conventional diplomacy can be. They stress how critical it is for all nations to come together and communicate what we know, what we’re passionate about and, most importantly, to listen to others and learn from them as we pursue mutual understanding.

The initial agreement signed in February of 1950 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and U.S. Ambassador Loy W. Henderson, established the Fulbright program in India and its continuity has supported to date academic and cultural exchanges for approximately 20,000 citizens of India and the United States.

The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), the administering body of the programs, has seen extraordinary growth and changes since its creation. Among those changes, the organization required renaming. In 2008, the old United States Educational Foundation in India, or USEFI, became USIEF to signal the commitment of the Indian government to become equal partners in the funding and governance and to reflect the true binational nature of the program.

The increase in exchanges under the new agreement has allowed for a tripling in the size of the program and for the development of new, innovative programs. India now has the largest Fulbright scholar program in the world, and one of the largest student research programs worldwide.

As the Executive Director of USIEF, managing an office of 60 talented and dedicated individuals in Delhi and USIEF’s regional offices in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Chennai, coordinating efforts with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the American Embassy, participating on interview panels, and visiting institutions across India and the United States, as well as ensuring the upkeep and maintenance of the historical Fulbright House, it’s natural to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks. Anniversaries such as this give us a great opportunity to take a moment to give thanks, reflect, rejoice, and recharge.


This anniversary finds USIEF with the completion of the first phase in the project of digitalization of our early administrative files. This is a massive endeavor that will require further work to make the information accessible as historical records. Looking through these documents, we were reminded, for example, that for the first Fulbright fellows travel meant a long voyage by sea and a big step away from their comfort zones; in early versions of our scholars’ handbook, we encouraged fellows to feel free to bring their own typewriters with them.


Technological advances have changed the way we travel and how we stay in touch. It’s obvious that things have changed rather dramatically in seventy years. What remains unaltered, however, is the spirit of adventure, the goodwill, and the desire to learn and share knowledge that propelled every scholar who has been a recipient of this prestigious award.


I am grateful to the USIEF staff whose effort and intelligence contribute to make this program successful. The support of alumni, our cheerleaders and best marketing campaigners, is also essential to our success. Their dedication to make sure the wealth spreads, and their enthusiasm to share their knowledge and experience is contagious. And each year I am amazed by the talent and humanity of the students and scholars from India in the US and from the US in India, who don’t limit themselves to perform in their areas of expertise, who always surprise us with their ability to give more and infuse more depth and meaning to their presence abroad. Their lives are enriched by the experience but so are the lives of everyone who comes in contact with these extraordinary individuals.


Today we celebrate 70 years of the Fulbright programs in India and this celebration renews our commitment to fulfil Senator’s Fulbright goal of bringing “a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs,” as well as increasing “the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.”


Adam J. Grotsky, Executive Director

February 2, 2020

To learn more about Mr. Adam J. Grotsky please click here.