Image: Eric Garcetti appointed US ambassador to India, AP
Indian-Americans have welcomed Eric Garcetti's confirmation as the US ambassador to India and are hopeful that his close relationship with President Joe Biden will serve the crucial bilateral ties quite well.
The US Senate voted 52-42 to confirm the former Los Angeles mayor's nomination on Wednesday after an unprecedented delay of more than two years.
In a year when India is holding the presidency of G20 countries and there is expected to be a presidential visit and several other high-profile trips, the presence of a full-time ambassador with closeness to the White House was never felt as strongly before.
"The United States-India relationship is extremely important and it's a very good thing we now have an Ambassador,” Senate Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer said soon after the Senate confirmed the nomination of Garcetti.
“President Biden believes that we have a crucial and consequential partnership with India and that Mayor Garcetti will make a strong and effective Ambassador,” Olivia Dalton, Principal Deputy Press Secretary White House told PTI.
“The President thanks (Senate Foreign Relations Committee) Chairman (Robert) Menendez and Senators on both sides of the aisle for their thorough consideration and for today’s bipartisan vote to confirm Mayor Garcetti,” Dalton said.
Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus and Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the relationship between India and the US is a strong one, and one of great strategic, economic, and cultural importance.
Founded on shared values, supported by growing economic and trade ties, and strengthened by the Indian diaspora here in the US, this partnership continues to hold significant promise for the future, Warner said.
“As co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, I am glad that there will finally be a Senate-confirmed ambassador in New Delhi,” he said.
Congressman Gregory Meeks, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee congratulated Garcetti on his confirmation and said he looks forward to working with him to advance the US-India relationship.
"Our partnership with India has grown exponentially over the past two decades, with deepened bilateral cooperation on every issue imaginable: from trade and investment and climate change to security and public health," Meeks said.
“Given the critical nature of this partnership, I'm pleased we will finally have an ambassador in New Delhi who can help advance our many shared interests, including finalising the establishment of the United States-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation,” he said.
There was jubilation among Indian-Americans.
Congratulating Garcetti on his confirmation, M R Rangaswami, founder-chairman of Indiaspora, an influential non-profit that serves as a network of Indian-origin leaders across diverse fields, said Garcetti showed his resilience and commitment to the India-US relationship through his tough confirmation.
“(We are) relieved and also excited that someone like Eric (Garcetti) is going to be there (in India) building on the relationship,” Rangaswamy said.
Yogi Chugh, entrepreneur and community leader from California, said Garcetti is an excellent choice to serve as the US ambassador to India.
The importance of India to the global economy and national security will only continue to grow over the coming years. Having a steady hand to guide the US relationship with India is vital, he said.
"I strongly believe he will be even-keeled when it comes to ensuring that the US-India partnership will be the most consequential of the 21st century,” he said.
“In his interactions with the Indian-American community, he has emphasised the importance of people-to-people interactions and I am confident that this is something Ambassador Garcetti will continue to pursue during his tenure," Chug said.
Khanderao Kand from the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies expressed happiness that after more than 600 days, the US would have an ambassador in India.
“This appointment is long due and important considering global strategic relations of the US-India and India’s G20 leadership,” he said.
Ronak Desai, a leading India practitioner at Paul Hastings and expert at Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University said that the senate vote confirming the president’s nominee to become ambassador to India demonstrates that the bipartisan consensus surrounding US-India relations remains firmly intact.
“Democrats and Republicans agree on remarkably little these days in Washington. The importance of maintaining strong US-India ties continues to be one of the rare exceptions. Bilateral ties have transcended partisanship and any individual party or person,” he said.
Desai observed that the vacancy was becoming untenable, something that was clear to officials in Washington and New Delhi.
“The post is simply too important to have remained vacant this long. The confirmation was long overdue and credit belongs to the White House and senators from both sides of the aisle for acting.
"This is an incredibly important time in US-India relations and a Senate-confirmed ambassador must be at our mission’s helm in Delhi. The post of US Ambassador to India matters,” he said.
Elucidating on this, Desai said John Kenneth Galbraith was instrumental in managing the US response to the Sino-India War in 1962 and getting American aid to India.
Robert Blackwill was one of the leading architects of the transformative US-India civilian nuclear deal during the Bush years. Rich Verma was instrumental for bringing the two countries together on the historic Paris Climate Agreement under the Obama Administration, he said.
“American ambassadors are critical, especially in India,” Desai said.
Eminent Indian-American community leader Ajay Bhutoria highlighted Garcetti's experience as the former Mayor of Los Angeles, where he built strong relationships with business leaders and political figures, as well as his work as a co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign.
"I am thrilled to congratulate Eric Garcetti on his appointment as the Ambassador of India. His experience and leadership will be invaluable in strengthening the relationship between the United States and India.
"As a community leader, I know that this appointment will have a positive impact on the Indian-American community and the broader South Asian community in the United States," said Bhutoria, a member of President Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
He also noted that the United States and India have a strong and growing partnership and that Garcetti's appointment will help further this relationship.
"The United States and India share many common values, including a commitment to democracy, diversity, and innovation. I have no doubt that Ambassador Garcetti will work tirelessly to deepen this relationship and promote cooperation between our two countries," Bhutoria said.
"I look forward to working with Ambassador Garcetti to strengthen the relationship between the United States and India and to promote the interests of the Indian-American community," he added.
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