Indian envoy Taranjit Singh Sandhu given fond farewell by Indian American community

A screenshot of the Zoom call of the community felicitation for Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu


The role of the Indian American community is critical in creating an indelible impression about India in the US, said Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu at his farewell felicitation event held on January 20.

Held over zoom with all six consul generals from San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and the newly formed Seattle office, and community leaders from across the US, Sandhu gave credit to the Indian American community which has created an indelible impression about India in the US. He said that the community’s role has been critical in shaping the Indo-US relationship.

“During the pandemic, all of us saw how Indian Americans set an example for themselves and India. I know there are physicians amongst you here, and lots of other professionals but when we switched on the TV, we saw Indian doctors spearheading the battle against the pandemic by explaining the symptoms of Covid and what precautions people should take. It is a matter of pride for all of us. The role of Indian Americans has been very critical wherever I have been posted.”

“Like the Covid period was an uncertain time for all, my stint in the US too has been full of challenges. Whenever I got posted here, I used to joke with my colleagues that since I have been posted here some problems would crop up. Now that it is time for me to say goodbye hopefully, the problems too will go with me.”

“In my last posting in Fairbanks, Alaska, I checked on some of the focus areas which included education. I was fascinated that the provost of the university in Fairbanks was an Indian American woman. There 200 Indian students from Delhi, Kolkata, and Bhopal, were working on specialized topics like geology, atmospheric sciences, and aerospace. Today, 250,000 Indian American kids are studying in the US.”

“During President Trump’s phase, when students were being sent back because universities were closed due to Covid, the point that I made to the US administration was that these young kids bring value and a competitive edge to the US economy. And that’s the pride of our diaspora, it is no surprise that there are so many Indian Americans heading companies here. Many non-IT companies like Starbucks have Indian American engineers and CEOs. Several Fortune 500 companies are also being headed by Indian Americans, and the community has excelled in competitions like the Spelling Bee in the state of Texas,” he added.

Pointing to the Biden administration, Sandhu said: “If you look at the second layer of leadership, you will see so many Indian Americans. When I came in 1997, there were only a handful of Indian Americans who were in the US Congress. That’s the kind of success that our community has got. That gave me the signal and the way to strengthen the India-US relationship. Today, we talk of technology, ICET supply chains, AI, and the technology handshake at the White House that was formalized by President Biden and Prime Minister Modi last year. During my tenure Micron Lam Research, and Applied Materials invested in India. These are facts.”

“If we look at the defense sector, earlier we used to talk of buyer-seller arrangements, but today there is joint production like the GE-HAL deal. US naval ships are also being repaired in India. That’s the kind of relationship that is emerging in the business and commerce sectors. But this is still only the tip of the iceberg. You should not be surprised to learn that Apple, Google, Nvidia, and Walmart may begin sourcing from India. If we talk of the energy sector from $0, today we have above $20 billion trade. We have not only the First Solar company investing $700 million in Chennai, but we also have India’s VSK Energy investing in North Carolina. This is the kind of relationship that has emerged in the last two and a half decades, particularly in the last five to ten years. Whether it’s affordable healthcare, energy, technology, startups, innovation, and new emerging technologies, the US-India relationship is destined to grow big,” Sandhu added.

Sandhu said that the success of Indian Americans indicated to him and his team that “this is where the India-US relationship should be progressing”. “Why do we have 250,000 Indian students studying here? Because there’s a comfort factor. More than 4 million Indian Americans are in the United States. This is the largest population of the community outside India. That is an example of the special relationship between the two nations, the people-to-people bond. The Indian American community has given us a lot of reasons to feel proud and we will soon have two more consulates in the US. I’ve spoken to at least 44 governors of different states of the United States and met many of the mayors, and I understand that a lot of authority is there in the states and the cities. A lot of business can be done there. That’s why the Indian American community members have a very critical role to play.”

Sandhu said that there is a lot that needs to be done in the knowledge and education partnership of India and the US and advised the community to connect with their roots. “India is an ancient civilization, but a very young country as 50% of its 1.4 billion people are aged 26 years and below. And this is of critical importance in a world in which Europe and traditional economic powerhouses are aging. Therefore, it is very important that all of you connect with your alma mater, universities, and towns in India. Whenever you go to India take some time to share your experiences to motivate kids there or you can help modernize the education of the institutions by sharing what you have experienced. That will contribute to the further high trajectory for India, the United States, and for the global good.”

He also urged the community to ensure that their children remain invested in India. “They should travel to India like so many other communities here in the United States. If there’s any issue regarding the security of your children, I can assure you that the consulates will help you out. They have support when they go. It is important that they visit India now because tomorrow they will be in a unique position if they know the country well, they will be hired by most of the international companies that will be moving into India.”

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