India is now one of the most important relationships of the US: Eliot Engel

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Jagdish Sewhani and Rep. Elio Engel, in Long Island, New York. Photo: Jagdish Sewhani.

India is now one of the most important relationships for the US, a Democratic Congressman has said adding that a strong and vibrant Indian-American community has played a key role in strengthening the relationship between the two largest democratic countries of the world.

“That India is now one of the United States’ most important relationships — whether working together to address climate change, trade and economic growth, security or space exploration — speaks volumes about the exponential growth and potential of our bilateral ties,” said Rep Eliot Engel.

Chairman of the powerful House Foreign affairs Committee, Engel was speaking at an event organized by the American India Public Affairs Committee in Long Island last month to felicitate him in recognition of his contribution towards India US relationship, according to a press release.

“At the heart of this friendship are people-to-people ties—especially the strong and vibrant Indian-American community that has brought such incredible energy to this relationship… driving stronger engagement and helping keep things on track during challenging times,” Engel said.

Looking forward to working with Indian Americans to ensure that this bilateral relationship continues to grow, Engel said as a founding member of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans almost 25 years ago, he has been a longtime supporter of strengthening the US-India relationship.

“When we first established the caucus, the relationship was more about the things we could not do together, than the areas where we were cooperating.  Thanks to the hard work of dedicated leaders from both our countries, we’re now standing shoulder-to-shoulder in ways that no one would have imagined a generation ago,” said Engel, addressing a small group of eminent Indian Americans.

Welcoming Engel, Jagdish Sewhani president of American India Public Affairs Committee said that relationship between India and the United States are not only natural but in coming years they will grow at rapid speed.

In his address, Sewhani called for increasing the trade between the two countries. Noting that the trade between the two countries was just $ 20 billion in 2000, he said at the turn of this  century, which jumped to $ 100 billion 2014 and $ 150. By 2025, according to a recent report by US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) is projected to increase to $ 250 billion.

But at a time when India is poised to become a five trillion economy in next five years and aspires to become a 10 trillion economy in the next eight years thereafter, Sewhani said it is time to set the goal of making this bilateral trade to half a trillion dollars in less than a decade or in 2027 when India celebrates the 80th anniversary of its independence.

He also urged the Congressman to ensure that there is no dilution or diversion in the zero-tolerance policy of the United States when it comes to fight against terrorism.

Noting that it was the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had coined the term that India and the US are ‘Natural Partners’, the eminent community leader said that it is time that “We The People” and Representatives of “The People” take a lead in giving legislative framework to this.

Engel can play a leading role in effort in a historic year when we are celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, he said.

This “natural partnership” is driven by people to people relationship, the thousands of businesses between the two countries, lakhs of Indian students in the US and when they go back they take along with them the dream they work culture which they try implement back home, Sewhani said.

Sewhani suggested that there should be Annual Summit meeting between Lok Sabha Speaker and Speaker of the House Of Representatives. He also suggested the creation of US Caucus in Indian Parliament on the lines of India Caucus in US.

“In the case of India and the US, we need to come out with a framework in which this bilateral relationship is driven by people and business. As of now, I don’t know the specifics of such a move — but our end goal should be a framework in which there is a much better and freedom of movement of people, businesses, and collaborations in the field of research and development,” Sewhani said.

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