Washington: The relationship between India and the United States – the two largest democracies of the world – is seen as the most transformational one in the current era, New Delhi’s top envoy to the US has said.
“Today, the US-India relationship, is being seen, as the most transformational relationship of our times,” India’s new Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu said in his address to a gathering of American business community at a reception hosted in his honour by US India Business Council (USIBC) on Thursday.
“The relationship has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the United States. This is an affirmation of our shared values, of our common commitment to democracy and pluralism,” he said.
Sandhu said the economic partnership between the two countries has grown from strength-to-strength over the years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious target to make India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 and the US is a preferred partner in that endeavour, he added.
“Bilateral trade is growing at 10 per cent on a year-to-year basis and has reached USD 160 billion in 2019. Two-way investment between India and US reached USD 60 billion in 2018,” he said.
“More than 2000 US companies have a presence in India. Over 200 Indian companies have invested USD 18 billion in the US creating more than 100,000 direct jobs,” he added.
Sandhu said that USIBC under its president Nisha Desai Biswal has become a prominent powerhouse in the India-US policy sphere.
“She is a close friend, and true partner for India – one whom I have had the pleasure to have worked closely with from the Hill to Foggy Bottom,” he said.
Biswal as the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia during the Obama Administration played a key role in strengthening India-US relationship.
“She is also, without a doubt, one of the most recognisable faces of the United States in India,” he said.
“But even as we celebrate the progress we have made, Nisha and I would agree that our task remains unfinished – that the business of this extraordinary partnership between India and the United States is very much a work in progress,” Sandhu said.
Business, industry, academia, think tanks, civil society, and media all play an important role in building India-US relationship, he noted.
It is in this context that USIBC is an important player – as a strong bridge-builder, and a force multiplier; but most importantly as a mirror that reflects the expectations of the people, he said.
USIBC’s role remains integral to the success of both governments, the ambassador said. Meanwhile, Biswal said Sandhu has been part of this “US-India story”.
This is Sandhu’s fourth stint in the US as an Indian diplomat, which includes two previous postings in Washington DC and one at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice G Wells said: “Ambassador Sandhu is a seasoned veteran of Washington and a true friend of the US-India partnership.”
Under Biswal, USIBC is playing an indispensable role in building the private sector linkages that are so vital to this relationship, Wells said.
Many of the US-India milestones achieved in recent years are due in no small part because of Biswal’s efforts, Wells said.
When Sandhu was the Deputy Ambassador at the Indian Embassy here, Biswal was the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.