US lawmakers, community leaders praise Ambassador Sandhu’s tenure

US Senator Mark Warner addressing the gathering during Ambassador Sandhu’s farewell reception at India House on January 24, 2024, in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Members of the United States Congress have commended the work of outgoing Indian Ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Sandhu, crediting him for a strong US-India partnership, during a farewell reception at India House on January 24, 2024.

Underscoring the importance of US-India partnership and his relationship with Ambassador Sandhu, Senator Mark Warner said Ambassador Sandhu and him talked whenever there were big challenges amongst the nations.

“And we always dealt with each other honestly. We dealt with each other as friends. And we realize that the core of the friendship between our two countries is based on common values, around decency, around democracy, around innovation,” said Warner. “And I will make one prediction that while Ambassador Sandhu may be leaving this post, I believe, and I hope with all my heart that he has more public service in his future.”

US Senator Jon Ossoff addressing the gathering during Ambassador Sandhu’s farewell reception at India House on January 24, 2024, in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Senator Amy Klobuchar described her visit to India last year, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as “incredible.” Klobuchar recalled she was happy that Senator Schumer came back “full of ideas and so supportive of our relationship.”

While commending Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US last year, Klobuchar emphasized, “And we know there are challenges ahead, but this is a relationship between our countries that has always been strong. But is on the move in the right direction…”

During his address, Ambassador Sandhu noted, “It’s been over 35 years for me in the Foreign Service… So it’s a bit emotional. But I am extremely grateful to all of you. You have connected with me in my three stints here at some stage or the other. There’s so much I’ve learned from you.”

He recalled his “first exposure and experience with challenging times” in 1998 when the United States imposed sanctions on India for conducting nuclear tests. As the Embassy’s liaison to the US Congress, Sandhu noted he worked with the then Indian Ambassador to the United States Naresh Chandra and had met more than 300 Congressmen and 75 Senators in that post. He added, “I must say in each of those interactions, we found positivity and that’s where my own positivity came out that come whatever crisis, United States-India partnership is there to remain and progress ahead.”

“India-United States relationship has deepened in intensity, matured in character, and expanded in scope… it touches almost all spheres of human activity, trade, defense, space, healthcare, education, skilling, people-to-people ties…” said Sandhu pointing out that this transformation evolved over the last 10 years.

He emphasized the increasing collaboration between the two countries, particularly in fields like critical and emerging technology, solar, and energy initiatives alongside defense and strategic programs such as the Quad, IPEC, and I2U2. Additionally, he also underscored the significance of knowledge and education partnership.

Senator Jon Ossoff highlighted the “effective working relationship” between him and Sandhu and spoke of Sandhu’s role in fostering increased agricultural trade between the state of Georgia and India. “I mentioned this to the Ambassador when I first arrived and one of my goals was to reduce tariffs on US Pecan exports to India. And the Ambassador and I had worked together to secure a 70 per cent reduction on those tariffs.”

Praising Sandhu’s “collaborative spirit” Ossoff noted, “I thank you so sincerely for your work helping to guide and grow this pivotal bilateral relationship between the United States and India. I truly believe that the future of human freedom of peace and sustainability hinge on the quality of the partnership between the United States and India.”

Director of White House National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta said Ambassador Sandhu is the “foremost person to lead the bilateral relationship between our two countries,” adding that he is leaving a legacy that will stay for hundreds of years to come.

President Joe Biden’s Advisor John Podesta, White House Domestic Policy Advisor, Neera Tanden, and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the US International Development Finance Corporation, Nisha Biswal also spoke and praised Sandhu’s efforts in strengthening US-India relations.

Consuls-General of India from Chicago, New York, Houston, San Francisco, and Seattle were also present at the farewell reception, where a number of community organizations honored Sandhu with mementos.

Ambassador Sandhu also participated in farewell events, on January 25, at the Bliar House followed by an event organized by the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) at the Willard InterContinental in Washington DC. He also attended in another event hosted by Sikhs of America in association with other local community organizations in Greenbelt, Maryland.

At the Blair House, Sandhu noted, “2023 has been a momentous year with State visit of PM to the US and the visit of US President to India for G20… we have made it all happen together. We had a dream – we shaped our dream – we indeed lived our dream.”

Addressing the gathering at the USISPF event, Sandhu said that the US-India relationship “is on the right trajectory” and underscored the ongoing partnership in various sectors.

“Ambassador Sandhu has been one of the leading architects of this relationship, which stands at its apex from the deep synergy in clean energy, education partnership, space collaboration, defense, and technology ties,” said President & CEO of USISPF, Mukesh Aghi.

Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Ashley Tellis noted that Sandhu “has been an assiduous contributor to this relationship because he understood right from the beginning how important this partnership is for the future of both our countries.”

At the Greenbelt event, Chairman of Sikhs of America, Jesse Singh said Sandhu has not only strengthened ties between nations but also strengthened ties between the communities in the DMV area.

“Indian Americans have played a very significant role in making us arrive where we are today” Sandhu said addressing community members at the event. A number of community organizations also honored Sandhu during the occasion.



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