WASHINGTON, D.C.— The new Indian ambassador to the U.S., Harsh Vardhan Shringla, touched by the rousing welcome Congressional reception accorded him on Feb. 7 on Capitol Hill, which attracted an unprecedented number of lawmakers and hundreds of Indian Americans from across the country, observed that it’s an undeniable reflection of the goodwill and natural affinity towards India.
The envoy in thanking the co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus and the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans for hosting “the warm welcome,” noted that “as the world’s oldest and largest democracies, the U.S. Congress and the Indian Parliament express the will of our people and the strong bipartisan support for the relationship in the U.S. Congress is reflected in the goodwill and natural affinity toward India among the American people.’
“You need only look around this room to see the enthusiasm of your constituents who have flown in from all parts of the United States to be with us here this evening,” he told the lawmakers, and added, “It is no co-incidence that the bi-partisan India Caucus is the largest country specific Caucus on the Hill.”
Shringla said, “We also look forward to adding in many new members to the India Caucus, which is something that has been mentioned by the co-chairs,” and noted, “with the number of new members to the House, this would be a welcome addition to our Caucus.”
He said, “In my first few weeks in D.C., I have had the opportunity to meet with senior members of Congress who recalled fondly that they were champions of the India-U.S. relationship long before it became fashionable. In fact, in the House of Representatives, the Caucus was founded 25 years ago, in 1993 by Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Congressman Bill McCollum of Florida. In the Senate, the Caucus was founded by Senator Cornyn and Senator Hillary Clinton in 2004.”
“Since then, at every step of the way, we have counted on your understanding and support as we continue to steer our countries ever closer,” he said. “Many in this room will recall the sterling role played by the India Caucus in getting us past the finish line on the landmark civil nuclear agreement.”
Shringla also said, “The designation of India as a Major Defense Partner was also codified into law by the U.S. Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, thanks to the unstinting support of the members of the India Caucus.”
Quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the Joint Session of the US Congress on June 8, 2016 that “our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history,” and that “comfort, candor and convergence define our conversations,” the ambassador said, “I will look forward to the same comfort, convergence and candor as we work closely with members of Congress, particularly members of the India Caucus to build upon the tremendous progress already made.”
“Our synergies and similarities are immense, our values and love of freedom identical. The spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation and high regard to family and community defines the best of both of our peoples,” he said.
Shringla said the “people to people contacts are a very important part” of the growing trade, defense and diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Washington, and reiterated that “India and the U.S. are countries that have a natural affinity and mutual attraction.”
In showering kudos on the Indian American community, he said, “We are very grateful to our many Indian Americans who are here,” and pointed out that “some have come from the west coast, some have come from the southern part of the United States, and some have come from far north, and all of them have come with the same objective to see how they can encourage us to take this relationship forward.”
Shringla said they were all committed to “help us in connecting with their elected representatives and how we can together strengthen that very valuable relationship.”
“I am confident that with your continued support, we will realize the immense potential the relationship holds--the defining one for the 21st century.”
Then in raising a toast to continued India-U.S. friendship, Shringla in illustrating the depth to which Americans and Indians are embedded in the psyche of one another, said, “One observation in talking about affinities that we share, I haven’t met since I’ve come(to the U.S.), one American who hasn’t said how much he loves Indian food, and I’ve rarely met an Indian who’s not talked about how much he loves Netflix, how he loves to go shopping on Amazon, and of course, how he posts updates on Facebook—and that includes me.”