Ambassador Sandhu presents his credentials to President Trump

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India’s Ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, presented his credentials to the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, at the White House, last week. Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian/White House

India’s Ambassador of India to the United States, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, presented his credentials last week to the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, at the Oval office of the White House.

Trump warmly welcomed Sandhu back to Washington, DC, and wished him every success in his responsibilities as India’s Ambassador to the United States. The President fondly recalled his friendship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and their several interactions, according to a press release.

Sandhu conveyed warm greetings from the President and the Prime Minister of India to Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump.

Sandhu also added that the vision and guidance provided by Modi and Trump in the last three years have moved India and the United States towards greater strategic convergence.

Sandhu affirmed his commitment to work towards strengthening strategic partnership between India and the United States, which is anchored in mutual trust and friendship, democratic values and people-to-people ties, said the release.

At a reception hosted in his honor by the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), last week, Sandhu spoke about his earlier days in Washington, DC, working at the Indian Embassy.

“When I was here, as a young diplomat in 1997, I always sensed, the potential of the US-India partnership, and wondered how we could, move forward. We are both vibrant democracies; open and multi-cultural societies, based on the rule of law. Our partnership today, is as natural as, it is seamless, based on the strong people-to-people connections. We have become, global strategic partners, and our collaboration, cuts across spheres of activity, which was unimaginable two decades ago,” he said.

“There is a new India, which is vibrant, fiercely democratic, young, and aspirational, which is shaping our relationship,” Sandhu said.

“India has, one of the youngest populations, in an aging world. India is a land of, 800 million young people! By 2020, the median age in India is just 28, compared to 37, in China, and the US, 45 in Western Europe, and 49 in Japan. The youth have the ability, to think big, think out of the box, innovate, and bring, transformational changes. They are forward looking, and are hungry, for development. They are full of hope, and optimism,” he said, in his speech.

Sandhu added: “The youth, are the drivers of, the new start-up, ecosystem in India. India is the Third largest, start-up base, in the world. We added 13,00 tech start ups, last year.

India, is home today, to around 27 unicorns, i.e. startup companies, valued at over $1 billion. Companies like Zomato, Swiggy, Big Basket, are home-grown, and have revolutionized lives, in India,” adding, “India is also home, to more than 2 million social enterprises, companies, which cater to, diverse social causes.”

Sandhu also spoke about the gigantic biometric exercise started by India.

“In the last eight years, over 1.2 billion Indians, have received their biometric IDs – Aadhaar, as we call it. This was, the fastest ever rate, of reaching a billion users, and it has, surpassed the growth, of global giants like Facebook, WhatsApp, or even mobile phones! Aadhaar is also, the largest and most successful IT project, ever undertaken in the world, with 1.1 billion people (92% of the population) having a digital proof of identity,” pointed out.

“We run the largest financial inclusion programme in the world, Jan Dhan. The linkage of Aadhar, with Jan Dhan, has revolutionized public service delivery, and brought new meaning, to good governance, in India.

We are a fast growing digital economy. In 2016, India overtook the US, in terms of internet users. India’s internet user base, is now the second largest in the world. There are about 1 billion, mobile users today. In mobile data consumption, today, India is, in the first position, ahead of US and China put together.”

Sandhu said India’s space program, “is among the most ambitious, and cost-effective ones, in the world.”

He lauded ISRO saying it “holds the record of launching, the most number of satellites, from a single rocket; the most economical mission, to Mars, two lunar Missions; and will soon be launching its first manned mission to Space. NASA and ISRO, have been collaborating, in a variety of space activities.”

Sandhu also highlighted the fact that India is the fourth largest automobile market in the world, and the 7th largest for manufacturer of commercial vehicles. US Companies like Ford, are running successful operations in India.

“Indian educational institutes have produced the minds that now lead the global corporations, like Google, Microsoft, MasterCard, Nokia, IBM. India is fast becoming, an Artificial Intelligence Hub, in the world, with reports suggesting that 60% of India’s GDP, by 2021, will come from AI.”

Sandhu also said that India is the also, largest cinema producer in the world; more Bollywood films are watched by people than from any other industry. There are more Bollywood and Hollywood collaborations now, according to him.

“Everyday, we hear, such inspiring stories, like that of a 19 year-old boy, who is set to build, 500 Astronomy Labs across India; or, people, who gift, bamboo toothbrush and steel straws for Christmas; or, the Administrative Service Officer from Himachal Pradesh, who used, 7,000 kilograms of plastic waste, to make beaches, roads and toilets; or development of an ultrasonic, solar-powered snake-repellent which can be used by farmers, to avoid snake-bites. This is the new India. This is the Brand India,” he said.

“Friends, our Prime Minister, has set the goal for India, to grow, from a $3 trillion economy, today to a $5 trillion economy, by 2024 and a $10 trillion economy, by 2030. In this journey, Prime Minister Modi has made it clear that the US is a preferred partner for trade and business,” he said.

“The potential for co-operation, between United States and India, is limitless. The relations between our governments has found a new momentum, getting its energy, from the warm friendship, between our leaders. The US President and our Prime Minister have met four times last year,” said Sandhu.

More than 2000 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. Two-way investment, between India and US reached $ 60 billion in 2018. Bilateral trade is growing at 10 per cent, on a year-to-year basis, and reached, $160 billion in 2019, he said.

“This makes me bullish about our relationship. The best is yet to come. When US capital, and expertise, meets the Indian market, and Indian mind, we should aim, for nothing less, but the sky,” Sandhu said.

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