Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to the United States, talked about the strengthening of the relationship between the two nations during a talk at the University of Central Florida.

Shankar spoke to nearly 250 people last week. Her presentation, part of the 2010-2011 India Speakers Series, was organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office.

Shankar, the second female Indian ambassador to the United States, has been part of the Indian Foreign Service since 1973. She formerly served as director of the prime minister’s office, minister of commerce, and head of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. She was also India’s ambassador to Germany from 2005 to 2009.

She said many factors in recent years have contributed to the improvement of American and Indian relations. They include India’s engagement in global issues following the Cold War, when the country focused mainly on domestic issues, and reforms to the economy and elsewhere, where it has found the United States a willing and enthusiastic partner.

In addition, India’s young population looks at the United States as a cultural model, since the countries share common traits such as large democracies, pluralistic societies and heterogeneous populations, she said.

Shankar also added that the strategic relationship between the two powers bolsters peace and prosperity for the region and the world. The countries recognize they have shared economic interests, strong ties between their people and multiple reasons to cooperate in international security arrangements.

The recent summit between President Barack Obama and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighted the areas in which the countries can expand their joint efforts, such as fighting international terrorism and sharing intelligence. Also, the United States now supports India having its own permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Although trade between the United States and India has been growing at a rapid rate, Shankar spelled out the need for the two countries to intensify cooperation in areas such as technology, research, agriculture, health care and education.

Sponsors of the event included the UCF Global Perspectives Office, The India Program at UCF, The Anil and Chitra Deshpande India Program Endowed Fund, the UCF Diplomacy Program, Lawrence J. Chastang and the Chastang Foundation, the UCF Political Science Department, the UCF International Services Center, UCF LIFE and the Global Connections Foundation.