By Surekha Vijh
Washington DC: India’s new Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, a familiar name in diplomatic circles here, sees an “unlimited potential” in India-US relations. He said both the countries were natural strategic partners as they were both vibrant democracies.
Welcoming the guests at the reception hosted by US-India Business Council at his residence, India House, on February 13, the new envoy said the two countries will stand shoulder to shoulder to combat terrorism and the Jihadi culture invading the world.
Ambassador Sandhu said both the counties were open and multi-cultural societies, based on the rule of law, and their natural partnership today was seamless, based on the strong people-to-people links. “We have become global strategic partners and our collaboration cuts across spheres of activity, which was unimaginable two decades ago,” he added.
Even the rain and cold wind could not dampen the enthusiasm of the Indian diaspora who came in large numbers from states including New York, New Jersey and the Carolinas, to welcome the new ambassador, who was the deputy ambassador here just a few years ago. Some lawmakers and US officials from the State Department were also present. The 1988-batch IFS officer presented his credentials to President Trump in the Oval Office on February 6.
Ambassador Sandhu said when he was posted in Washington as a young diplomat in 1997, he sensed the potential of the US-India partnership, and wondered how we could move forward.
He stated that the relations between our two governments have found a new momentum, getting its energy from the warm friendship between our two leaders. President Trump and PM Modi have met four times last year and will meet again this month in India.
Welcoming the diaspora, the ambassador said people from all areas, especially business class across both countries have contributed much to bilateral ties. Over 2,000 US companies have a presence in India. Over 200 Indian companies have invested $18 billion in the US, creating more than 100,000 direct jobs. The bilateral trade was growing at 10% on a year-to-year basis, reaching $160 billion in 2019.
India was the fourth largest automobile market in the world. US Companies like Ford were running successful operations in India. Meanwhile, Indian educational institutes have produced the minds that now lead global corporations like Google, Microsoft, MasterCard, Nokia and IBM, the envoy added.
He said India was the largest producer of movies in the world, more Bollywood films were watched by people than from any other industry. There are now many more Bollywood-Hollywood collaborations.
Ambassador Sandhu said a new India, which was vibrant, fiercely democratic, young, and aspirational, is now shaping India-US relationship. Prime Minister Modi has set the goal for India to grow to a $5 trillion economy by 2024 and calling the US as a preferred partner for trade and business.