The Joe Biden administration has nominated Eric Garcetti, 50, as its possible new ambassador to India, who has vowed to help India "secure its borders" and "defend its sovereignty" in a statement before a US Senate Comittee. Human right and democratic values would also be the cornerstone of the relationship, Garcetti said.
"If confirmed, I intend to double-down on our efforts to strengthen India's capacity to secure its borders, defend its sovereignty, and deter aggression - through information sharing, counterterrorism coordination, joint freedom of navigation patrols and military exercises (which I have participated in as a naval officer alongside my Indian counterparts), and sales of our best defence technologies in order to realise the full potential of our Major Defence Partnership," Garcetti said in his opening statement for the hearing.
Garcetti is a staunch Democrat and is currently serving as the Mayor of Los Angeles. In his statement, the mayor spoke of his studies of India and the Hindi language in university and how relationships with India at the time were frozen due to the Cold War. Today, there the "four million" strong Indian disapora in America, along with thousands of students and working professionals was a boost for America's economy, he noted.
He said if confirmed, he will work closely with India to support a similarly bold approach to promoting green energy through the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and through the Agenda 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Partnership.
However the senate also pressed him on issues of conflict, such as India's defense-deal with Russia to purchas S-400 air defence missile systems that was a challenge to US sanctions on Russia, as well as concerns for what Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee termed as "democratic backsliding on minority rights under the BJP rule.
"There's no question that the US-India relationship should be underpinned by our common commitment to democracy, to human rights and to civil society...And human rights, defence of democracy is a pillar of our foreign policy but to answer specifically, if confirmed, I will actively raise these issues or raise them with humility. It's a two-way street on these, but I intend to engage directly with civil society," Garcetti responded.
Climate change and green energy was also on Garcetti's agenda as he said he will work closely with India to support a similarly bold approach to promoting green energy through the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and through the Agenda 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Partnership.
The mayor already supports various initiatives such as chairing the C40 Cities project which involves 97 cities around the world taking action against climate change, which he has helped expand to India. Garcetti co-founded Climate Mayors and led more than 400 US mayors to adopt the Paris Climate agreement, according to the announcement made by the US government.