U.S. Ambassador Richard R. Verma (@usambindia) paid his first official visit to Varanasi December 16-17, 2015. During his visit, Ambassador Verma spoke to the students and faculty of Banaras Hindu University about the importance of the recently concluded Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change and the future of U.S.-India relations. He articulated the vital roles U.S. and Indian businesses and organizations can play in adapting to climate change and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions – particularly by accelerating the development and deployment of clean energy solutions – for their respective peoples and for the planet. He challenged BHU students to lead efforts to combat climate change. In addition, Ambassador Verma gave an interview with the Hindustan Times in Varanasi in which he discussed the objective of his trip and the importance of US-India relations.
Ambassador Verma also met with the members of the Varanasi Chapter of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce to understand the business climate in eastern Uttar Pradesh and discussed increasing bilateral trade between the United States and India to $500 billion per year. Ambassador Verma listened to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community leaders about the work they are doing to clean the Ganga River. Ambassador Verma experienced the region’s spirituality during his visit to the Deer Park at Sarnath and observing the Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat with American college students working with NGOs in the region.
Ambassador Verma also visited the Banaras Beads factory and learned about Varanasi’s thriving export sector and its strong economic linkages with the United States market. Likewise, Ambassador Verma was able to learn about a vital economic sector of Varanasi by paying a visit to the Weaver’s Colony and discussing the industry’s opportunities and challenges. Finally, the Ambassador had the pleasure to participate in an evening cultural event in Varanasi hosted by Ashok Kapoor of Kala Prakash and was treated to an evening of Indian classical music.
Ambassador Verma noted at the conclusion of his visit that he was “greatly impressed with Varanasi’s economic and cultural dynamism and understood now why many of my friends have described Varanasi as one of India’s most colorful and magical cities. I see many opportunities for future collaboration between the United States and Varanasi and look forward to continuing our engagement with this great and ancient city.”