FIIDS Hosts Landmark Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, Strengthening US-India Relations and Addressing Key Issues

Feature and Cover FIIDS Hosts Landmark Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill Strengthening US India Relations and Addressing Key Issues

The Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) organized a significant advocacy day on Capitol Hill, focusing on immigration reforms, US-India relations, and Quad partnerships. Held on Thursday, the event saw numerous volunteers engaging with nearly 100 elected officials and their staff.

“It has been a historic day. Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) hosted almost 140 delegates from 22 different states in the USA. We had 83 appointments the whole day,” Khanderao Kand, president and chief of policies and strategy at FIIDS, shared in an interview with PTI.

FIIDS delegations raised five critical issues in their meetings: US-India relations, particularly in technology exports and defense partnerships, Quad trade and security partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, the impact of the seven percent Green Card quota limit on Indian Americans, religious phobia, and critical minerals vital to the long-term interests of the United States.

“We also discussed the Quad expanding partnerships, both trade and security in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly on the background of China’s dominance in the global supply chain and competitive overtures around that,” Kand noted.

He highlighted the significant backlog faced by Indian Americans due to the seven percent Green Card quota limit, which affects H-1B visa holders. “We discussed the impact of the seven per cent countrywide Green Card quota limit, which has created a huge backlog on Indian Americans or rather the H-1B holders getting green cards. We discussed religious phobia and finally critical minerals, particularly in the long-term interest of the United States,” he added.

A Green Card, or Permanent Resident Card, allows immigrants to reside permanently in the US. The per-country caps restrict the number of Green Cards issued to individuals from specific countries. The H-1B visa enables US companies to employ foreign workers in specialized fields requiring theoretical or technical expertise.

Later at a reception at the Capitol Visitors Center, distinguished lawmakers, officials, and business advocacy leaders expressed support for the US-India relationship and addressed issues raised by FIIDS.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director S Panchanathan emphasized NSF’s collaboration with Indian science and technology platforms. Congressman Ro Khanna highlighted the strength of the US-India relationship, stating, “We need India as an ally when it comes to making sure that China doesn’t have hegemony in the region and our trade creates jobs in America. Unlike the Chinese trade deficit, our trade with India actually creates jobs here.”

Congressman Rich McCormick congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his historic third consecutive term. “It’s exciting to see democracy going the way it is over there and to see the strength of the nation that’s going to be strategically important to us in the future,” he remarked.

US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) President and CEO Mukesh Aghi predicted that the US-India relationship would grow economically, geographically, and emotionally. Following the elections, the perception of India moving towards autocratic leadership diminished, he noted.

US-India Business Council (USIBC) President Atul Keshap underscored the importance of private sector collaboration between the two democracies. He stated, “When the world develops the deep tech and the future tech of the 21st century, whether it’s semiconductors or it’s cybersecurity or it’s artificial intelligence, or it’s quantum computing or its defense platforms, outer space, vaccines that the United States and India and our great democratic allies and partners stand at the forefront. It is critically important.”

Deputy Indian Ambassador to the US Sripriya Ranganathan emphasized the robust relationship between the two nations, saying, “The relationship now has come to a situation where the two nations rarely disagree. I think that the insights, the interventions, the advocacy, and the shared presence of the Indian American community have a great deal to contribute.”

Indian American community leader Yogi Chug acknowledged the critical nature of the US-India partnership, noting, “We had a conversation about the idea of critical minerals, how important it is for America with China hegemony to recognize that allies such as India can forge this world pact on critical minerals,” while also mentioning anti-Hindu hate crime and immigration reform as other key discussion areas.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi lauded Prime Minister Modi’s phrase “Amazing India” and added, “I add another phrase: AI is Ascending Indefinitely. Amazing India Ascending Indefinitely. AI Square. You are the bridge between India and the United States. You are the ones making sure that this partnership goes to higher heights, becomes wider, becomes stronger, becomes deeper, cuts across all sectors, from security to commercial ties to people to people ties to everything in between.”

This advocacy day on Capitol Hill by FIIDS marks a significant step in addressing key issues impacting the Indian diaspora and strengthening the US-India relationship across various domains.

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