Indian American politician Swati Dandekar, who was nominated as executive director to Asian Development Bank (ADB) with ambassadorial rank by US President Barack Obama in November last year, began her Congressional hearings by Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on February 11, 2016. If confirmed by the US Senate, Dandekar will replace Robert M. Orr who held the position since 2010.
Obama announced his intention to nominate Dandekar to the top position in Asian Development Bank (ADB) along with eight other key administration posts. “I am confident that these experienced and hardworking individuals will help us tackle the important challenges facing America, and I am grateful for their service. I look forward to working with them,” Obama said.
Dandekar, a Nagpur and Bombay University alumni, is a former Iowa state legislator and a member of the Iowa Utilities Board, according to her White House biography. She was the first Indian-American citizen to win a state legislature seat in the United States. Dandekar was a Democratic candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the 2014 elections in the 1st Congressional District of Iowa, but lost in the primaries.
Dandekar, the nominee for U.S. Executive Director for the Asian Development Bank with Rank of Ambassador U.S., in a prepared statement before the Senate Committee, stated, “I am honored to have been nominated by President Obama to be the next United States Executive Director with the rank of Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank.”
Recalling her immigration to this land of opportunities, Danekar, who came to the United States as an immigrant in 1973 after she I married her husband of 43 years, Arvind Dandekar , who is is President of Fastek International, a software development company, said, “During my nine years in the Iowa House and Senate, from 2003 until 2011, I had the chance to work at the state level. I am excited by the potential opportunity to work internationally as the U.S. Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).”
Stating that as a legislator, she has always worked with both sides of the aisle to develop consensus positions that were acceptable to all interested parties. Over the years, she gained insight in to state finances and budgets, and she also has had extensive experience serving on a variety of boards in Iowa, such as the Linn-Mar School Board, Vision Iowa Board, Iowa Values Fund, Iowa Power Fund, and Iowa Utilities Board. “These experiences have provided me with a firsthand look at the transformative power of appropriate use of development funds. My extensive background in managing projects and cultivating partnerships will help me to carry out the responsibilities of the U.S. Executive Director at the ADB, which is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia Pacific region through sustainable and inclusive economic growth, investments in human capital, and good governance,” she said.
“If confirmed, my first priority will be to advance U.S. policy interests at the ADB. Additionally, I will work to ensure that the U.S. Commerce Department and other entities that publicize opportunities for U.S. businesses to compete for business overseas include information on how to compete for contracts from the ADB,” Dandekar said.
She also credited her upbringing in India to provide her with an excellent understanding of the Asian culture, pointing to her ability to speak in English and Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi, as well as having working knowledge in Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali languages. “My language skills and cultural awareness will position me well to address challenges facing the ADB and communicate how ADB is fueling positive economic development and stability throughout the region,” she said. Dandekar said, “I look forward to representing the United States at ADB and ensuring that our country’s priority initiatives are advanced.”