Hillary Clinton with Aamir Khan at the interaction in Mumbai on Saturday. (AP)
Mumbai, July 18: Mother first, power lady later.
Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, Senator, top-bracket lawyer and a former First Lady, today offered a glimpse of her role as a parent to daughter Chelsea, now 29, who did her graduation from Stanford University.
Speaking at an interaction on education with actor Aamir Khan, Hillary pointed to a recent Harvard University study that showed how children of educated parents who communicate constantly with their kids are likely to be better educated.
I remember we took Chelsea to museums, libraries, read to her and discussed things with her constantly. It reflected on her enormously — she had a much better vocabulary and communication skills than many in her age group, the proud mother said.
Hillary then revealed to the audience at the 140-year-old St Xaviers College auditorium how she, a graduate of Yale Law School, got around to teaching science.
I remember, when Chelsea was in the first grade, her teacher told a few mothers how she felt out of depth teaching science subjects. Though I was not a science student, I felt I was up to the challenge. I got together with another parent who was a scientist and started teaching science to the class, said Hillary, as Aamir watched on.
Hillary had said earlier in the day that she was excited about her interaction with Aamir. I know he would be the main attraction there, not me, she said with a smile.
But it was she who stole the frame, act and show.
Too much competition is putting a huge burden on school-going children. I would like teachers, parents and society to focus more on caring than competition, said Aamir, looking askance at Hillary.
Thats a very good point Aamir, I agree. But competition is part of the human genome. We are what we are today because of our competitiveness. We could certainly do with more caring in the world today. The focus of education should be inclusiveness, she told him.
This time Aamir nodded.
The two discussed education and child rights for over an hour before an audience that was largely made up of NGOs working for child rights and education, and students and professors of St Xaviers college.
A few chairs in the auditorium, however, went unoccupied despite the celebrity guests.
Those present, though, saw Hillary more in her avatar as mother and wife though flashes of the secretary of state did come through when she spoke of the Obama administrations view that the American system of education was still far from being fully inclusive.
I am here to see how the US and India can work for the common cause of education, which is the great equaliser and gateway to opportunities, she said. We as a society need to give that much importance to the weaker sections of society who we have bypassed back home.
For an example, she spoke of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Bill was the first in his family to get a college education. He was lucky that his parents understood the value of education and supported him. But what about the millions of others in our country and the rest of the world who do not get an access to education — mainly because they are either from poor backgrounds or their families are unable to support or guide them. We have to put systems in place for such children and this applies as much to us as to you, she said.