Delay in appointment of Eric Garcetti as envoy to India irks businesses, senators

Ritu Jha-

The delay in the appointment of the US ambassador to India, marked by the impasse over the nomination of former Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti (seen in pic above with President Joe Biden) for the post, is weighing heavy on the Indian American business community and Senators alike.

Vish Mishra, Venture Director, Clearstone Venture Partners, a former president and trustee of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Silicon Valley, spoke candidly to indica about his concerns. Mishra is also director at India Community Center and advisor to Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship at San Jose State, a founding board member of San Francisco-Bangalore Sister City Initiative.

“You never leave the ambassador’s spot vacant in any country with which you are candid and friendly,” he said. “We don’t have an ambassador spot vacant in Germany, France, England, or any other friendly country. But India is the exception. It’s been two years, and something needs to be done. I wish to ask the administration, why can’t you appoint an ambassador to India?”

He added, “Having an ambassador is a sign that you have good relations with the country. On the diplomatic side, the US and India got a lot going on; the quad dialog, Secretary Antony Blinken visited India recently, and Senator Chuck Schumer took a delegation to India. Our militaries are doing joint exercises. Yet, the ambassador’s spot remains vacant.”

To be sure, in January this year, President Joe Biden re-nominated Garcetti as the next ambassador to India, sending back the nomination to the US Senate whose Foreign Relations Committee, which clears all ambassadorial appointments, had sent it back to the White House a year ago.

Senator Mark Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, minced no words on the issue: “It is an embarrassment that we say this is one of the most valuable relationships in the world, and yet we’ve not appointed an ambassador.”

Warner was part of a Congressional delegation to India recently.

He also said that Indians also raised the issue of the absence of an ambassador at this important time. Warner is co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, the largest and only country-specific caucus in the Senate.

Mishra, while talking about the recently held India Dialog at Stanford University, said: “It was very well done and next year it will be bigger and better.”

Focusing on what India needs to spur growth, Mishra added: “To fuel growth, you have to raise capital because you have to bring the financial status in sync with the requirements for a $5 trillion economy. Economic growth can occur only through an infusion of capital. And India still doesn’t have the capital to support its ambitious growth.”

Mishra pointed out that India is “very aggressively trying to deregulate a whole bunch of stuff to make it easy to do business in India”.

But, he said, that there are causes for concern. “India is making improvements, but there are roadblocks. Labor reform has been done, which is very good. Land reform is a big thing, the legal system reform also is very important, but they reforms in the financial and insurance communities are important too, especially banking. Beyond these reforms, India needs to agree to the Free Trade Agreement. That hasn’t yet been consolidated. It needs to be done.”

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