Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna hosted a reception for a record 26 Governors of the States of the US at his residence on February 24 in Washington, DC. The gathering of governors from across the nation, representing both the major political parties, described as the first of its nature held in recent years, was attended by a record number of Governors, including Governors of Virginia, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virgin Islands, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Senior representatives of Governors of California, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania were also in the audience.
Ramping up its diplomatic profile in Washington with an eye on the Donald Trump administration’s orientation towards business, the Indian embassy, for the first time, hosted a reception for US governors who gather in the capital every year for their winter meeting. It’s a prestigious event that India won the chance to host, over stiff competition from other missions.
Founded in 1908, NGA is one of Washington D.C.’s most respected public policy organizations and is called the “collective voice” of the nation’s governors. Its prestigious membership includes the governors of all 55 US’ states, territories and commonwealths.
The reception aimed at showcasing for the governors the business potential of the partnership not only between the United States and India, but also between US states and India — Sarna called for “even greater attention” on the need for “state-to-state relations”.
Welcoming the guests, Ambassador Sarna noted that this evening interaction reflected the solid ground of bipartisan political and popular support on which the India-US strategic partnership is based. He emphasized that the India-US relationship is a symbiotic one which embodies our shared values of freedom, democracy and federation.
The Indian Ambassador underlined the particularly fruitful economic relationship between India and the United States that has greatly benefitted the two countries- providing jobs, creating resources and making both countries globally competitive.
Urging US companies to be part of the Indian success story, Ambassador said that India’s booming economy creates strong demand for U.S. goods, helping to create jobs and prosperity. Ambassador added that Indian companies operate in most U.S. states and are present in diverse sectors like IT and telecommunications, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, education, financial service and manufacturing.
Ambassador drew attention to the immense contribution of the high tech sector in promoting bilateral economic cooperation. From 2011-15, studies by reputed business houses reveal that more than 400,000 jobs have been directly and indirectly supported by the Indian tech companies recording a growth of 10% annually. Over the last 5 years, Indian tech companies have paid over $20 billion as taxes, $7 billion towards social security contributions and impacted over 120,000 American lives through Corporate Social Responsibility contributions.
While summing up, Ambassador said that since US and India are both federal in their polity and governance systems, States will always have a critical role to play in spurring growth and facilitating investments. India’s Prime Minister, who has himself been the Chief Minister of a State for more than a decade, is a strong believer in ‘cooperative federalism’. This platform of cooperation between the Indian Embassy and NGA thus provides us with fertile ground for fruitful and active cooperation between State level authorities of our two countries.
On the behalf of NGA, its Chair, Gov. McAuliffe of Virginia highlighted the rapid strides and holistic growth in the bilateral relationship. Fondly recalling his eleven day visit to India in November 2015 (as the head of a Trade and Investment Mission), he highlighted the various opportunities that a growing Indian market represents to US companies and investments. On behalf of NGA, he assured the gathering that NGA and its components- the US State Governments, will continue to work closely with India to assure a safe and secure work and living environment for Indian citizens in the US as well as a productive business environment conditioned by a favourable regulatory and legal set-up.
To express their appreciation and regard, Vice Chair of NGA, Gov. Sandoval then presented a memento to Ambassador Sarna. The evening’s formal programme concluded with the screening of several visual presentations showcasing the themes of ‘Invest and Make in India’ jointly prepared and produced by the Ministry of External Affairs, Invest India Corporation, NASSCOM and the Embassy of India in Washington D.C.
The ambassador reminded his guests — who included CEOs and business leaders from India and the United States — the importance that Prime Minister Narendra Modi attaches to the development of states in India under the larger concept of “cooperative federalism”.
The reception comes close on the heels of a combined delegation of 27 US members of the House of Representatives that visited India last week, and set another record for the maximum number of lawmakers the country hosted at the same time.