President Joe Biden has nominated Eric Garcetti, the current Los Angeles Mayor, to be the succeeding ambassador for India. The excitement in the Indian American community was undeniable, with news and celebrations circulating around Southern California and reaching social media platforms.
Prior to his nomination’s announcement, Garcetti assured the reporters at a Los Angeles Media Roundtable that he has deep-rooted connections to India and claimed that his experience visiting India as a teenager had influenced his life. As a U.S. college student at Columbia University, Garcetti managed to continuously keep in touch with his culture and traditions by studying Hindi and Urdu. He even expressed his regrets for not being able to study Buddhist studies abroad in Bodhgaya due to his school council responsibilities.
The student council member at Columbia University, later on, became mayor in 2013, becoming Los Angeles’ first Jewish and its second elected Mexican American mayor. Not only is his ethnic background unique when compared to previous mayors, but his youthful 42 years of age is also a characteristic that distinguishes him from the rest. In 2017, he easily won his re-election as well as voter approval for the extension of his term to 2022. Although he received voter approval, enabling him to carry out his mayor duties for another extra year, he has decided to respond to the task of assisting India as the next ambassador instead.
A commonality Garcetti has pointed out between the governments of the U.S. and India is the urgent response to climate change. Beginning from 2019, the nominee leads the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group as the chairperson, along with the former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg as president of the board. The organization consists of 98 cities, with at least six being Indian cities, around the world, incorporating one-twelfth of the world’s population and one-quarter of the global economy. Garcetti promises that he has “engaged very extensively with Indian leaders, chief ministers, and urban leaders around climate change and as much as I can around Covid now.”
When asked about what he will take from Los Angeles to his new job, Eric Garcetti responded by expressing his hopes of prioritizing what he can bring from India to the United States. He states that there are lots of similarities between our challenges and opportunities that take place in various areas such as Hollywood and Bollywood, or the digital economy where both California and India are big leaders. He goes on to say that he “would hope to bring the culture of Los Angeles to potential service abroad.” With California producing 85% of the produce for America, there is a large potential for building agricultural connections, which is principal in the Indian tradition.
Many are looking forward to the nomination in hopes of improving U.S.-India relations and are reassured given Garcetti’s previous responsibilities with the nation’s second-largest city and his numerous political connections.