The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Panel Discussion on Canada-India: Training the Next Generation of Innovators and Researchers (New Delhi, India)

New Delhi, India, Tuesday, February 25, 2014


It is a pleasure to join you here for this discussion on the next generation of researchers and innovators.

This is not my first visit to India, although it is my first as governor general of Canada. As many of you know, I was a university administrator for many years, and it was in that capacity that I visited three times over the past decade. I also served on the Canada-India Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee.

In 2005, I addressed, in Canada, alumni from the Indian Institutes of Technology. I underscored our numerous ties, as well as the shift from the old to new industry—I called it “grain to brain”—that attracts talented people.

I hope I can be forgiven for quoting myself, but a decade ago, I said: “The best form of technology transfer is a good pair of shoes. The intellectual property in the brain carried around by those shoes can do magnificent things.”

And if you wear them out, they can be re-soled!

Here we are nearly ten years later, and I am in India, looking around at a room filled with the next generation of researchers and innovators, who will no doubt do magnificent things.

How did we get here? And how can we maintain the great momentum we have started?

The answer is and will be: we do this together.

Canada shares many of the same priorities as India, which makes it easier to collaborate locally and globally. Of particular interest—to me and to our countries—is learning.

There exists an abundance of data to reinforce the link between education and human development. In the 21st century, the well-being of whole societies will be determined by their ability to learn, to gather and share knowledge, and to innovate.

India, of course, has distinguished itself in learning, particularly in higher education. It continues to develop capabilities to meet national development needs and global challenges through high-quality teaching, learning, research, and knowledge dissemination.

Canada, meanwhile, is home to some of the world’s best universities and colleges, which together have signed more than 300 agreements to work together with Indian institutions.

This collaboration has allowed both our countries to share expertise and students, with many choosing international education as the best course to expand their knowledge.

This collaboration, this sharing of resources and talents, is something that I like to call the diplomacy of knowledge—essentially, learning and innovating across borders and disciplines.

This is especially important in a globalized world. The next generation of researchers—many of you here, in fact—will continue to do research in ways quite different from the previous generation—and making international connections with each other is part of that.

It is through this type of exchange that we will continue our move from grain to brain—not losing knowledge or talents across borders, but circulating our innovations and creativity freely.

In this era of rapid change, it is important to strengthen our ability to think creatively and to solve problems, while reaffirming our commitment to our values and traditions.

Canadians—with a commitment to diversity and welcoming campuses and communities—are dedicated to working together as partners. Canadians are eager to engage with India on important issues, such as clean water, air and energy, and communication and education.

In our interconnected world, our collective well-being will be determined not by GDP or by the number of billionaires a nation can claim, but rather by our ability to empower citizens to reach their potential and to contribute to the societies in which they live.

Only by enabling and harnessing that potential will we truly prosper, and build the smarter, more caring nations and the fairer, more just world to which we aspire.

We have both the resources and the willingness to achieve great things together, so let me leave you with this message. Canadians want to welcome you to our country. We invite you to come to Canada to innovate with us, and similarly we are eager to come to India to work with you on vital research projects.

I look forward to seeing what the next generation of Canadians and Indians achieve together.

Thank you.