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Maxwell and India — An Enduring Partnership

January 25, 2024

The relationship between the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the government and people of India dates back more than 70 years.

Thousands of senior officials have taken advantage of Executive Education’s training and degree programs, while others have come to Syracuse to study through some of the most prestigious fellowships offered.

Two of those Indian citizens who have come to Syracuse to enhance their careers include Samar Nanda and Ananya Sinha.

Samar Nanda
(left to right) Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman and E.M.P.A. alumnus Samar Nanda. 

Nanda, an official with the Indian Revenue Service, came to Maxwell to pursue an executive master of public administration (E.M.P.A.) degree, having learned about the program through his now-retired boss, who was a program participant in the early 2000s.

With master’s degrees in both sociology and literature, Nanda aspired to transform his attitude towards policymaking and reach out to the unaddressed sections of potential beneficiaries of the agency’s services.

He is now commissioner of customs authority for advance rulings in the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance in India, where he has served for 19 years.

In 2022, the Indian government recognized Nanda’s contributions by conferring on him the Presidential Award for Specially Distinguished Record of Service during Republic Day.

“Maxwell’s teaching on maximizing the value of government service delivery through increasing citizen engagement in policymaking was the most impactful thing I learned,” Nanda says. “The Maxwell experience was a dream come true; it’s indeed a life-changing journey. The art of negotiation, managerial leadership, conflict management, climate change and e-governance are some of the key areas that have driven me to study further and engage in research through publication of papers in Indian Journal of Public Administration (IJPA), Sage Publications and other journals too.”

While Nanda furthered his education in Maxwell’s E.M.P.A. program, Sinha studied for 10 months as a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow. The program is sponsored and funded by the United States Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education.

Humphrey Fellows represent emerging democracies and developing countries, spending 10 months at the Maxwell School participating in graduate study, professional development and cultural exchange.

Like Nanda, Sinha is an official with the Indian Revenue Service and came to the fellowship with study interests that included tax policy and the undervaluation of property.

Anaya Sinha
(left to right) Humphrey Director Margaret Lane, Hubert H. Humphrey alumna Ananya Sinha and Professor of Practice Catherine Gerard. 

And also like Nanda, it was connections that led her to seeking the prestigious fellowship. Her boss had participated in the Executive Education training program, while the boss’s daughter earned her M.P.A. last year at Maxwell. Additionally, Sinha’s brother is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Political Science Department at Maxwell.

“My experience as a Humphrey fellow was wonderful,” she says. “As a public servant and a tax bureaucrat aspiring to work in the domain of tax policy, the experience of studying at one of the oldest and finest public policy schools in the world has been of immense value. At Maxwell, I had the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in the field of policymaking. Furthermore, I acquired the skill sets to adapt to and operate in a multicultural and dynamic environment. My year at Maxwell was one of the most memorable years of my life.”

Sinha says she “looks forward to going back to Maxwell to pursue further studies.”

Dan Nelson, director of accelerated learning and global engagement in Executive Education, said the paths Nanda and Sinha took to Maxwell demonstrate the benefits Executive Education offers in both enhancing their knowledge base and careers.

“The cutting-edge research of faculty and scholarship in public leadership, in tandem with the real-world experience of midcareer students, fellows and executive training participants, creates a global environment where real change can take root,” stated Nelson. “Our alumni’s dedication to Maxwell and their organizations offer a constant in a world of change.”

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