USINPAC cheers for Indian Americans Rajiv Shah and Richard Verma for emerging as frontrunners to succeed Nancy Powell as US Ambassador to India

Though the sudden resignation of US Ambassador to India Nancy J Powell continues to spin the rumour mills, the names of Rajiv Shah, chief of the US Agency for International Development, and Richard Verma, former assistant secretary in the state department under Hillary Clinton, are reported to have emerged as front runners to succeed her.

Ralph Alswang Photographer 202-487-5025Apparently, the US administration has also shortlisted two more names. One is of Ashton Carter, who recently quit the Barack Obama administration as deputy secretary for defence. The other is Fred Hochberg, a fund-raiser for President Obama’s poll campaign and currently the head of the US Export-Import Bank.

Sources say the US authorities will take a decision only after the general elections in India get over and a new government is in place.

Shah, 41, is the highest-ranking Indian-American in the Obama administration. He earned accolades as head of USAID for his response to earthquake-hit Haiti and floods in Pakistan.

Shah also has a close acquaintance with some stalwarts of Indian industry. Born to immigrant parents who hailed from Gujarat, he did an MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an MSc in health economics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Verma, called ‘Rich’, served for a little more than two years as (then secretary of state) Hillary Clinton’s principal Congressional affairs advisor, in his capacity of assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. Verma is believed to be also close to the present secretary of state, John Kerry. He was a confidant of Clinton and continues to be a senior outside advisor to her. His parents are from Punjab and he served in the US Air Force, being decorated more than once. He’s also served as the senior national security advisor to Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

IN20_RAJIV_SHAH_24151fAs for Carter, former US deputy secretary for defence, he’s a known quantity here, as military cooperation between both countries has begun to ripen. He views China, India, Australia and New Zealand as the US’ future security partners.

As for Hochberg, a businessman who is now head of the US Exim Bank, it is believed that if he becomes the next ambassador, he might be able to fix the growing strain in Indo-US relations on trade and industrial policies.

The strategic and bilateral relationship has been simmering with tension for quite a while. The US government raised its fees for professional visas; then, a series of trade spats soured the relation.

It then hit a low when Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, when posted in New York, was arrested and strip-searched over allegations of visa fraud and making false statements.

Source: BusinessStandard


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement in advance of India’s national election:

“On April 7, 800 million Indians of astounding linguistic and religious diversity will head to the polls for India’s 16th national election since independence. This will be the largest exercise of democracy in history.  On behalf of the United States Senate, I convey my admiration and best wishes to the people of India.
Tim Kaine

“As the world’s oldest and largest democracies, the U.S. and India have a strong partnership grounded in common values and shared interests.   The partnership has grown to unprecedented levels over the past decade. The potential and promise of what President Obama has called the leading partnership of the 21st century is real:  bilateral trade has reached $100 billion, Indian companies have invested $17 billion in the U.S., 100,000 Indian students study in the United States, and a 3 million strong Indian-American community underpins the relationship.  This is a relationship that enjoys broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.  I’m a proud member of the India Caucus – among the largest in Congress – and am privileged to have jurisdiction over U.S.-India issues as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs.

“The United States will continue to work with the new government to further strengthen the ties between our two great democracies.  At a time of growing global challenges, our partnership is more crucial than ever to the peace and prosperity of Asia Pacific and beyond.  Governments come and go, ministers may change portfolios, but our people-to-people ties, democratic values and shared interests are enduring.”

Source:  U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

A Great Opportunity to Interact with India’s Leading Polling Experts

In the next two months, almost 814 million voters will make their way to polling booths across the length and breadth of the country to cast their votes in the largest democratic elections in the world. The general elections, in which voters will elect a total of 543 members to the lower house of Parliament, or Lok Sabha, will ultimately decide the fate of the nation. The upcoming elections, described by local analysts as historic, pits the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against the broadly centre-left Congress party, which has been in power for 10 years. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is Narendra Modi while the Congress campaign is led by Rahul Gandhi, the 43-year-old scion of India’s most famous political dynasty.

votingAll the hype and buzz about the upcoming elections have whipped up enough interest all around the world and Indian Americans are equally keyed in to the updates. Only a few of them have a vote back home, but that does not stop them from being excited about the elections and hoping that the election brings forward a clean government and a corruption free India. Sensing their growing interest in the Indian elections, US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) has come up with a unique initiative which is running a series of weekly conference calls with noted analysts from India providing their expert opinion to the American callers. The discussion points during the calls touch upon subjects such as possible outcomes of the elections, impact on trade and investments in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, energy, aviation, IT, status of civil liability bill and possible shift in India’s foreign policy. The calls which began on March 22nd will continue till May 16th and India’s leading political analysts and experts will be offering their expert opinions with respect to the Indian elections. In the last two weeks, the featured experts were Dr. Jagdeep S Chhokar, the founder member of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit organization that’s working for government and electoral change in India, Dr. Anupam Srivastva, Managing Director, Invest India, Madhav Nalpat, Director of the Geopolitics and International Relations Department at Manipal University and Yashwant Deshmukh, prominent broadcast journalist and founder of C-voter.
The various questions they were asked ranged from effectiveness of the next government to implement the bills to how will the government curb the rampant corruption and what is the 100 day plan? Predictions were also made that the Bhartiya Janata Party led alliance (National Democratic Alliance) will get a minimum of 230 seats in the Indian parliamentary elections, according to Mr. Yeshwant Deshmukh, of C-Voter, a leading polling agency. In such a situation, the NDA will be well placed to attract support from some of the regional parties – to easily cross the magical figure of 271 to form the next government in India.
Participants across 9 cities, which included leaders of the Indian American community, policy-makers at Capitol Hill, investment bankers and investors from the Wall Street along with technology entrepreneurs and academicians connected through the call.
With the first two calls turning out to be such a raging success, the rest of the calls are set to witness an even better response. As Sanjay Puri, Chairman, USINPAC says, “There is significant interest in the U.S. about the upcoming elections in India. Policy makers, businesses, and investors want to evaluate the developments. Major policy and business decisions would depend on the outcome of these elections. Through this initiative we aim to provide a better understanding of India to our U.S. members so that bilateral relations which are seeing a rocky present have a cooperative future.”
This week the panel of experts will comprise of Prof. Chintamani Mohapatra and Rajiv Kumar. To register for the call, click here.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard supports a strong U.S.-India relationship

India currently stands as the best model of democracy and stability in South Asia. Pakistan has been unable to shake free of a history of Islamic extremism. Afghanistan continues to face daily domestic security challenges and serious obstacles to development. Bangladesh yet again appears to be in the throes of political instability, with Prime Minister Sheik Hasina’s facing acts of violence from Islamist groups and activists affiliated with the opposition parties. Sri Lanka remains burdened with the difficulties that follow a prolonged and violent civil war. Of course, countries surrounding South Asia—such as Burma and Iran—face numerous challenges as well.

These realities must drive U.S. policy in the region.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) understands this. From even before taking the oath of office, she has supported a stronger U.S. relationship with India because she recognizes that India is a friend in a region of the world riddled with unfriendly actors.
As a result, when some members of Congress cosponsored House Resolution 417—a bill that unfairly criticizes the Indian national and state governments’ application and enforcement of religious freedom laws, particularly with respect to the 2002 religious riots in Gujarat—she promptly argued against it. This was the right decision. Rep. Gabbard stated about the United States and India, “It is critically important that we focus on strengthening the ties between the two nations, and I do not believe that H. Res. 417 accomplishes this.”
It was particularly important that Rep. Gabbard pointed to India’s rich history of allowing a litany of religions—including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Tibetan Buddhism—to prosper.

Rep. Gabbard concluded that “India is a democratic multi-cultural and multi-faith society, and shares many common values and strategic interests with the United States.” She recognizes that the United States and India are natural friends and also that the former has much to gain from a good relationship with latter, stating, “I think it is critical the US and India have strong ties. A strong partnership with India will be a huge win for the US.”
The U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) supports Rep. Gabbard not only for her advocacy of improved U.S-India relations, but also for a number of other reasons.

Most importantly, Rep. Gabbard has served America honorably, having enlisted in the Hawaii National Guard in April 2003 and deployed since then to both Iraq and Kuwait. She received the Meritorious Service Medal for her work during Operation Iraqi Freedom and an award of appreciation from the Kuwaiti military—the first woman ever to do so. Even now, as a Congresswoman, she is a Military Police Company Commander with the Hawaii National Guard.
By gaining valuable experience in the military, she has also been able to bolster the effort to fight for the right of women to serve in all military capacities, including combat roles.
Rep. Gabbard was one of the first two female combat veterans to be elected to Congress. Her current committee assignments in the House of Representatives include the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Homeland Security. Through this portfolio, she has begun to strengthen her credentials in foreign policy and national security, issues which will only become more important as new global threats arise to challenge the United States.
USINPAC recognizes that Rep. Gabbard’s continued presence in Congress is good for both the security of the United States and for U.S.-India bilateral relations, which include such areas as counterterrorism, defense, and trade. USINPAC supported Tulsi Gabbard before she was elected to Congress, and it will continue to support her during her time in office.

USINPAC congratulates Indian American Gopal T K Krishna on his appointment as the co-chair of the Republican Party in Iowa

Indian-American businessman Gopal T K Krishna has been elected as the co-chair of the Republican Party in the US state of Iowa.

Krishna, who is a successful businessman with a background in electrical engineering, was elected for this second top most Republican position in Iowa along with Danny Carroll, who was elected as Chairman.

“I have been, and am a Republican for all Republicans. The first three letters of my name are G-O-P. I ran because I don’t want to wait until the primary elections to promote unity.

“I want to continue to increase our party’s voter registration advantage and participation in the forthcoming elections,” Krishna said after he was elected by the 18-member governing board at the Republican Party headquarters in Des Moines.

Gopal TK

Krishna received 11 votes and six board members abstained. He has been elected seven times to the state central committee. This was his fourth election as co-chairman.

“I look forward to working with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to advance the Growth and Opportunity Project, work to reach out to minorities and bring new people into our Republican Party,” said Krishna.

“As long as I am Co-Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, outreach to all minority communities will be a priority,” said Krishna, who is from the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Source: Business Standard