India with its huge demographic potential can be the US’ partner in its economic growth and effort to establish peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, India’s Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna has said. Sarna said this while responding to a hypothetical question from Patrick Terrien, president and CEO of Columbus Council on World Affairs, that what he will tell US President Donald Trump if asked about top three-four issues that India wants him to know. Terrien asked, “I wanted to ask you. So you get a call from our president here in the US and he says, Ambassador Sarna, come to the White House. I want to hear what’s on your mind? What are the top three or four things that India thinks about and wants the US to know? What are some of the things that would be on your list?”
The hypothetical question from Terrien during a conversation at the Columbus Metropolitan Club in Ohio last week drew laughter from the audience, but Sarna quickly articulated India’s point of view. “If such a phone call were to happen, I think, I would be very happy to quickly put together three or four main issues that India has. I don’t mean issues in a bad sense, but in a sense, it is very important to consistently underline the logic that drives India-US relation,” he said. “I would be very happy to say (to the president) that look, here is a country which is 1.3 billion people and growing; here is a country which works very much like the United States, we have states and we have chief ministers like you have Governors. Here is a country which peacefully changes its government whenever it wants to, through the electoral process, a process which is respected across the world,” Sarna said.
“And here is a country which provides you with not just a market, of course it’s a huge market, but here’s a country which can be your economic partner as you try to grow the United States,” Sarna said. Indian professionals, in particular those coming through the H-1B visas, he said are making American companies globally competitive. “Our H-1B visa holders are employed more by American companies than by Indian IT companies. So the major part of our professionals goes to make the US globally competitive,” the top Indian diplomat said.
“Here is a country which is increasingly understanding the strategic defence potential of the India-US engagement, which is today conducting more military exercises with the US than with any other country,” Sarna told the audience as responding to a phone call from the president. “And if you’re bothered, Mr President about what is happening in the Indo Pacific, if you want to create a zone of peace and prosperity and progress in the Indo-Pacific, if you want to give the countries of Indo-Pacific alternate methods of building the infrastructure in a transparent way; if you want to establish the rules of international law, the freedom of the seas, the freedom of overflights, the freedom for trade in energy to flow in the Indo-Pacific, then frankly, you can’t find a better partner than India,” Sarna said.
The interaction with the ambassador was organised by the Columbus Metropolitan Club in partnership with the Columbus Council on World Affairs, Greater Columbus Sister Cities, Federation of Indian Associations.