Surekha Vijh –
The Indian Diaspora in Washington DC gave an inspiring welcome to the new Indian Ambassador, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
The National Council of Asian Indian Association (NCAIA), along with several other Indian American organizations held a grand reception for Ambassador Shringla on April 28 at the Julia Binderman Suburban Center in Potomac, MD.
More than 500 people representing different Indian communities, some had even traveled more than fifty miles, gathered to welcome the Indian ambassador to the US.
“It is definitely one of the largest gatherings I have witnessed in recent years,” said Angela Anand, chairperson, NFIA. Angela is the first woman chairperson of NFIA, who was elected in November. 2018.
The other organizations included GOPIO, NFIA, American Telugu Association, Rajput Association of North America, Gujrati Samaj, Odisha Society of America, Ron and Chitra Gupta Foundation, Sikh Foundation of North America, Global Television Foundation, Frank Islam and Debbie Foundation, and many more.
The program, which lasted for five hours, started with the national anthems of both countries.
The US and state officials included David J. Ranz, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary; Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Senator Dick Black; and Marc Elrich, Montgomery County executive.
Ranz noted that US–India relations were at their best because of the Indian American community has certainly paved a way towards that.
Black, on behalf of the entire US Senate, welcomed the new ambassador. “India–US relations have improved so much since the last decade,” Black said.
“We might have differences, but we are working together, and we are happy to see India’s success,” he added.
Elrich called the Indian American community the backbone of his county. “They are the smartest people.”
Senator Black, a Republican from the 13th district of the Virginia State Senate, welcomed the new ambassador said that he was so happy to part of India’s success.
“The Indian American community is vibrant and helpful in bringing India and the US closer. We might have differences, but we are working together,” he said.
Amb. Shringla, a career diplomat, who hails from Darjeeling, West Bengal, congratulated the Indian Diaspora’s wonderful efforts in bringing the two democracies closer.
He said it was because of their efforts that India–US diplomatic relations have come so far. As both countries were looking forward to a strategic partnership in various fields.
The ambassador, who speaks fluent Hindi, Bengali, English, French, Vietnamese, and Nepalese, noted huge bipartisan support for this relationship between the two largest democracies, “not only on international issues but also in the economic vision.”
Lauding the India–US relationship as having evolved into “a truly comprehensive partnership of mutual trust and confidence,” he said the annual bilateral trade in goods and services between the two counties have more than doubled over the last decade, from $58 billion in 2007 to $126 billion in 2017.
The two-way trade between India and the US has grown exponentially and was worth $126 billion in goods and services in 2017. It is expected to cross $140 billion, more than 11% in the future.
The total bilateral merchandise trade in 2018 was more than $87.5 billion. US exports to India in 2018 have grown at nearly 30% to over $33 billion while Indian exports have grown at about 12% to over $54 Billion. The ambassador said due to this growth the bilateral trade deficit has reduced by over 7% in 2018. “Our bilateral defense relations have grown manifold.”
He said the presence of a large and vibrant Indian American community was a bonding factor between the two countries.
“More than 227,000 Indian students are studying in the US and contribute over $6.5 billion to the US education system each year. Tourism plays a big role in enhancing people to people contacts. The United States has continued to be among the largest tourist generating market for India during the last few years.”
“India is the sixth largest market for international visitor spending in the United States.” The ambassador continued.
Gopinath Durgayainaidu, the past president of NCAIA, presented the bouquet to Ambassador Shringla upon his arrival.
The chairman and the president of the NCAIA, Sunil Singh and Kripa Shankar Singh introduced the organization to the ambassador, saying that within two years they have achieved tremendously with the Indian Diaspora’s help.
Others who spoke included Frank Islam, Shambhu Banic, Sunil Singh, Swarup Singh. A vote of thanks was given by Nayna Desai.
A small cultural program was organized by local talents which included a Bollywood dance by Punjabi Gidda and Bharat Natyam.