Good afternoon everyone.
Thank you very much Sunjoy for that kind introduction, and thanks as well to ORF for hosting this event.
I come before you today to give my Farewell Address as the United States Ambassador to India. For me, it is a time of deep gratitude and appreciation as well as one of reflection.
It is an honor and a responsibility to represent the United States as ambassador anywhere in the world. But it is a special privilege to be the U.S. Ambassador to India. The past three years and two months have been the most remarkable and fulfilling period of my professional life.
When Swami Vivekananda arrived at the World’s Parliament of Religions at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, he exclaimed: “Sisters and Brothers of America – It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us.” I have felt the same way living and working in India.
As with many Americans, Indian civilization – its unique culture and amazing people – has long touched me. My parents traveled throughout India in 1966. I vividly remember being enchanted by my father’s many photographs of people and places in this country. I have been fortunate to be part of the U.S.-India relationship for the last 20 years – as a diplomat, a technology executive, an investor, and a member of several non-profit boards. But serving as Ambassador and being directly involved in expanding the relationship at every level has been a tremendously rewarding experience. I have tried my best to be worthy of this great opportunity to contribute to our partnership.
I am grateful to the President of the United States and the Secretary of State for their confidence and support. I thank as well the Prime Minister of India, the Minister of External Affairs, and my many friends and interlocutors throughout India for your warm and gracious hospitality. You have extended many courtesies to me, and worked collegially and constructively with me and my American colleagues.
I would also like to thank my wonderful team at the U.S. Mission in India – from our Embassy, to our four Consulates, to the many agencies that are represented at our Mission. I so much appreciate your hard work, your dedication, and your support. Thank you as well to my colleagues back in America – at the State Department, the White House, and throughout the U.S. Government. We have worked together on many high-ranking official visits, most notably by the President and the First Lady, but including multiple trips by the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Commerce, as well as visits by the Secretaries of Energy and the Treasury, our Ambassador to the United Nations, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, numerous Members of Congress, Governors and Mayors, and many other government, business, educational, and cultural leaders.
As this list demonstrates, my government is committed to the U.S.-India relationship at the highest levels. The visits also hint at the breadth of the relationship, which spans the scope of human endeavor. I would submit that there is no bilateral relationship in the world that is as broad, complex, and rich in substance as that of the United States and India. We cooperate on defense, counterterrorism, non-proliferation, cybersecurity, trade, investment, energy, the environment, health, education, science and technology, agriculture, space, the oceans, and so much more.
Before delving into the details of our achievements over the past few years, let’s step back to recognize the global context for U.S.-India cooperation. The Indo-Pacific region encompasses the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies and its most populous nations. More than 50 percent of international trade passes through its waters. The region is rich in natural resources. And it is fast becoming the center of gravity of the evolving international system.
Indeed, the tectonic plates of that system are shifting, marked especially by the rise of China and, more recently, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated health and economies in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere. The region needs stability, leadership, and a democratic model for development that does not threaten the sovereignty of other countries. This is why a strong and democratic India is an important partner to promote peace and prosperity. While our strategic partnership has been on an upward trajectory over the last two decades, the past four years stand out as a time of ambition and achievement in the relationship.
The recent growth has been the result of considered thought by leaders in both countries, the commitment of substantial resources, and conscious implementation by government officials. The U.S. Government has been dedicated not just to the bilateral relationship, but to supporting India’s rise on the world stage. The U.S. National Security Strategy put it down on paper in 2017, welcoming “India’s emergence as a leading power and stronger strategic and defense partner.”
When I gave my Inaugural Address three years ago, I spoke of our shared commitment to democracy, our broad set of common interests, and the many pillars of our bilateral relationship. Let me now review some of those attributes and the ambition we have brought to this partnership over the past few years, in cooperation with our Indian counterparts.
Diplomatic Cooperation and the Indo-Pacific Region
As the United States and India work together to sustain the rules-based international order, it is worth remembering that we have been engaged diplomatically for over 70 years. We actually established diplomatic relations in November 1946, several months before India’s independence, as Americans supported a free India taking its rightful place in the world. But our diplomatic cooperation has accelerated in recent years, inspiring our leaders in February 2020 to declare this a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.
Our more recent diplomatic coordination flows from our shared vision of the Indo-Pacific region. While the concept of the Indo-Pacific has been many years in the making, it is in the past four years that our countries have shown the ambition to turn it into a reality. In 2017, President Trump described the U.S. vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific as one where “sovereign and independent nations, with diverse cultures and many different dreams, can all prosper side-by-side, and thrive in freedom and in peace.” And at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018, Prime Minister Modi presented India’s vision of a “free, open, inclusive” Indo-Pacific region.
The Indo-Pacific is particularly significant for the U.S.-India relationship because it recognizes the reality that India and the Indian Ocean are inextricably tied to East Asia and the Pacific. India’s expanding economy is likely to become an increasingly important driver of growth for the region, while trade and investment among Indo-Pacific nations – including the United States – will continue to provide a major impetus for India’s growth. For the U.S.-India relationship, the Indo-Pacific means that, at a time of great change and challenge, we see India as a critical partner in preserving and expanding the peace and prosperity that have underpinned this dynamic region.
Both the United States and India have adapted our internal institutions to this regional orientation. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense renamed its Hawaii-based Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command – or INDOPACOM. That same year, the Ministry of External Affairs established a new Indo-Pacific Division. And we have come to a consensus on the geographical contours of this region – stretching from the shores of the East Coast of Africa to the West Coast of the United States.
Having articulated a vision and common set of principles for the Indo-Pacific, we have also begun coordinating with like-minded countries to build out the architecture of this region, while supporting ASEAN centrality. The United States and India joined with Japan for the first-ever Trilateral Summit in 2018, followed by a second meeting in 2019. And in 2019, and again in 2020, the three countries were joined by Australia for a Quadrilateral Ministerial. These groupings, which have been supported by extensive expert-level engagements, are leading to greater cooperation and ambition on a range of issues, including maritime security, pandemic management, regional connectivity, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and cybersecurity.
As global partners, the United States and India have increased our consultations, information exchanges, and joint efforts relating to other countries in the region and other areas of the world, including training African peacekeepers. We have also enhanced our work together in international organizations and in advance of international meetings.
In short, the extent of our diplomatic cooperation has thickened in ways we hardly could have imagined twenty or even ten years ago. We are now building out the foundation of a stronger Indo-Pacific architecture that will enable us to tackle challenges that lie ahead. Our mission over the next five years and beyond should be to give this endeavor further form and substance – to develop guidelines and, if necessary, even redlines. This should enable all countries to prosper from a region that respects sovereignty, a rules-based order, and the peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with international law. The United States and India both recognize that much of the Indo-Pacific region – if not the world – is depending on our efforts.
Defense and Counterterrorism
As democracies, our two countries are committed to a rules-based order, as well as to peace and diplomacy. We have both been influenced by the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. But we know that not everyone thinks as we do, and some choose suicide vests or military incursions. That is why the United States and India are committed to strengthening our defense and security cooperation – in the words of Sardar Patel, “cultivating strength to challenge oppression.” In the past four years, we have purposefully deepened this cooperation to keep our nations safe from a growing array of threats and to provide security beyond our own borders.
Our bilateral defense and security partnership reached a new level in 2018 with the inaugural 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue – a cabinet-level meeting among U.S. and Indian defense and foreign policy leaders. This important step reflected our increasingly close defense ties and provided a framework for coordinating and expanding our joint activities to preserve peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.
Among our most significant achievements has been the signing of three pivotal defense agreements – one at each of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogues. At the first Ministerial, we concluded the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement – known as COMCASA – to enhance the real-time exchange of sensitive information between our two militaries. At the second Ministerial in 2019, we signed the Industrial Security Annex to our General Security of Military Information Agreement, in order to share sensitive government information with industry and facilitate more industrial collaboration. And at the most recent Ministerial in 2020, we signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement – known as BECA – to share geospatial information, including nautical and aeronautical data. Each of these agreements was under negotiation for many years. With the ambition of the past four years, we were able to conclude them and further elevate the defense partnership.
On top of this, we have continued to enhance the complexity of a robust series of military exercises. This included the first-ever tri-services exercise – known as Tiger Triumph – which I had the privilege of inaugurating in Vizag in 2019. This will now be an annual joint amphibious exercise. And, most recently, Australia participated for the first time since 2007 in the Malabar naval exercise, alongside Japan. As a result of these defense agreements and military exercises, our forces are working more effectively together to keep the Indo-Pacific free and open.
Through our growing exchanges, joint training, and postings of liaison officers, we have further increased interoperability between our military services. In 2020, the United States, for the first time, posted a naval officer to an Indian military facility –the newly-established Indian Ocean Information Fusion Centre in Gurugram. Similarly, India posted, for the first time, a naval officer to a U.S. Combatant Command –the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain. And we held the inaugural Defense Cyber Dialogue in 2020, with working groups sharing best practices and exploring cyber capacity building.
We have also continued to expand our defense industrial cooperation, helping ensure that we have the right equipment and platforms to keep our countries safe. The U.S. Government and defense industry have increased joint research, production, and defense sales with India, and made available some of the most sensitive U.S. military equipment. We granted India, in 2018, Strategic Trade Authorization, Tier One status – known as STA-1. This benefit is normally limited to our closest allies, and now enables India to access many of our highly-regulated technology items.
In the past three years, the Indian military has inducted several U.S.-origin platforms, including Apache attack helicopters, Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and M777 ultra-lightweight artillery. Many U.S. defense firms now have a presence in India, creating jobs and drawing on the impressive pool of engineering and other talent here. I participated in the inauguration of the Tata-Boeing Aerospace joint venture in Hyderabad, which will soon be the sole location for production of Apache helicopter fuselages. And I visited the Tata-Lockheed Aero structures joint venture, also in Hyderabad, which supplies all of Lockheed’s C-130 empennages and soon will be its source for F-16 wings.
In addition, we have deepened our cooperation in the fight against terrorism, remembering that both of our countries have suffered from this scourge. We established a U.S.-India Terrorist Designations Dialogue in 2017 to coordinate our approaches to designating individual terrorists and groups. And we broadened our training efforts, with India hosting a Quad Counterterrorism Table-Top Exercise in 2019. We have also continued to work with Indian partners on a range of law enforcement issues, and established a new Counter-Narcotics Working Group to combat the illicit drug trade.
Reflecting on these achievements, I believe that no country has as strong and robust a defense and counterterrorism relationship with India as does the United States. Simply put, no other country does as much to contribute to the security of Indians and India. Our close coordination has been important as India confronts, perhaps on a sustained basis, aggressive Chinese activity on its border.
We recognize that India desires to produce more of its military equipment within the country, and the United States looks forward to our growing partnership in this effort. As this process unfolds, India will likely need to develop certain key capabilities with the careful use of outside procurements. This is expected to include fighter aircraft, which have the potential to transform our defense industrial cooperation.
In our view, defense procurement should not be solely about selecting the lowest bidder, but also about recognizing quality and value over the entire lifecycle, and ensuring strategic interoperability across services – and perhaps even with other friendly forces. Already, platforms have given way to systems, and, in tomorrow’s world, systems will fight systems, simultaneously across all domains – ground, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Information and the ability to share and integrate it into broader communications and operating networks will be key.
In this security environment, it is worth considering how effectively one piece of equipment will integrate into a broader system and strategy, and whether a particular purchase today will pave the way for – or preclude – future acquisitions of more sophisticated technology. While we appreciate that India has its own historical and geographical perspective, in today’s strategic landscape it may not be optimal to source equipment across a range of suppliers from different countries. Moreover, as India looks at co-production opportunities, it may wish to focus on manufacturing equipment that addresses the needs of the global marketplace, with sufficient demand worldwide to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
More broadly, will the evolving international environment require India to adjust how it expresses strategic autonomy? Might practical security needs necessitate building closer operating relationships with a smaller circle of trusted, like-minded partners to best preserve India’s independence of action while protecting it from coercion? And with which nations does India have the best chance of realizing its own ambition of a vibrant, indigenous defense industrial sector? These are important issues for the Government of India to consider.
From the perspective of the United States, we would like to do more, including joint planning and cooperative operations. The United States has maintained a longstanding commitment to a free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific. That commitment has underpinned the stability and remarkable economic rise of this region. India’s armed forces will find no better partner than the U.S. military. U.S. actions over the past few years – and in recent months – have reaffirmed this commitment. I fully expect the new Administration to continue where we leave off, with the choice of how quickly and how far to move on bilateral defense cooperation largely up to the Indian Government.
Economic and Commercial Relations
Let’s turn to a third key pillar of our relationship– our economic and commercial ties. I have long advocated for opening our two countries to further trade and investment in order to provide increased heft to our economic relationship, complementing our broader strategic partnership. A stronger economic relationship not only would bring benefits in terms of jobs and growth, but would add stability to the Indo-Pacific region. In short, we need to apply the same level of ambition in the economic sphere that we have had in the diplomatic and defense fields.
I am going to focus on pre-COVID-19 economic figures, as they provide the most accurate representation of the commercial relationship. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. trade and investment relationship with India continued to grow and expand. In 2019, bilateral trade in goods and services had surged to $146.1 billion, significantly up from the $18.6 billion mark when I started working on this relationship in 2001. Two-way trade in goods amounted to $92 billion, while trade in services was worth $54.1 billion. In fact, approximately 16 percent of India’s total exports head to the United States. The United States is now India’s largest trading partner, and India the twelfth largest partner of the United States.
The growth inimports of goods and services from the United States has provided India with advanced technology, wider consumer choice, and intermediate components for production lines of Indian companies. These have helped bring India into global supply chains and boost the competitiveness of Indian firms. In recent years, several U.S. companies have also made significant investments or expanded existing operations in India. While cumulative U.S. direct investment in India reached around $46 billion in 2019, the actual figure for all sources of U.S. investment is much higher, with U.S. companies having become the largest investors in India and having contributed over five million jobs to the Indian economy. This has included some of the biggest investments in India’s history, such as Walmart’s $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart in 2018, and the more than $16 billion of investments from various U.S. companies in Reliance Jio in 2020.
The bottom line is that no other country contributes as much to job creation, consumer choice, technology diffusion, and economic improvement for Indians.
An expanding number of Indian companies have also found America to be an attractive destination for trade and investment. By 2019, Indian cumulative investment in the United States totaled $16.7 billion, a 20 percent increase over 2018, and provided almost 70,000American jobs. As one of the most open and dynamic economies in the world, America welcomes such investment.
This is a lot of good news for the economic and commercial relationship. But I would be less than candid if I did not note that there are also frictions and frustrations on the trade and investment front. Despite persistent efforts, we were unable to conclude even a small trade package. Moreover, there are growing restrictions in India on market access for certain U.S. goods and services, increasing tariffs, new limitations on the free flow of data, and a less-than-predictable regulatory environment for investors. As I have stated on many occasions, given the size of our respective markets, there is plenty of room to expand the flow of goods and services in both directions in order for us to reach the full potential of our economic relationship.
The United States has a strong stake in India’s growth and prosperity, both because of our longstanding friendship with the people of India and because a strong economy will underpin India’s growing role on the global stage. India’s economic trajectory after its reforms of the early 1990s demonstrated the power of openness to trade and investment. As former Prime Minister Vajpayee stated, “empowerment is best served through rapid economic growth . . . and . . . only by opening our doors can we usher in the wind of change.” It also became clear that Indian firms could compete with any in the world, and that Indian consumers benefited greatly from the availability of higher-quality products at lower prices.
The United States welcomes steps by India to continue its economic reform measures. All countries today are struggling to discern the economic lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic as they implement policies seeking to promote economic recovery. As with the United States, India would naturally like to enhance its economic security by increasing domestic production and reducing critical dependencies. For all of us, being part of the global supply chain no longer means focusing solely on economic efficiency but also means factoring in political risks, as well as seeking increased domestic employment and a sound manufacturing base. As U.S. and other companies find it increasingly difficult to operate in China or seek to diversify away from Chinese-led supply chains, India has a strategic opportunity to become an alternative destination for manufacturing investments in the Indo-Pacific region. But to fully seize this opportunity, the Indian Government may well need to take further action.
The current view in India is that the best way to meet these various objectives is through a policy of “Self-Reliance,” emphasizing “Make in India,” while still seeking to be engaged globally, participate in global value chains, and be an exporter to the world. It remains to be seen whether all of these policies are compatible and mutually reinforcing, or whether they will lead to higher tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. The latter would limit India’s capacity to truly integrate into global value chains and, in the process, raise prices for Indian consumers.
Ultimately, these will be choices for the Government of India. Our experience is that excessively managed markets tend to create inefficiencies, leading to slower growth. On the other hand, trade openness historically has produced positive results for the Indian economy, its job market, and its consumers. The experience of the postwar period has demonstrated that East Asia’s success was driven by increasingly open markets at home and deeper trade relations with the West, especially the United States. If we are to be truly ambitious, I still believe that India should seek to lock in the benefits of its economic relationship with America by negotiating a comprehensive trade agreement, in a fair and reciprocal manner, that ensures access to both markets.
A fourth important pillar of our strategic partnership is energy, where we have made considerable efforts and achieved significant results over the past four years. In 2017, we elevated the bilateral energy relationship into a Strategic Energy Partnership – referred to as the SEP. We formally launched the SEP in 2018 and prioritized cooperation in oil and gas, power and energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable growth.
The Strategic Energy Partnership has expanded energy engagement through both government and industry channels. The first major activity under the SEP was the U.S.-India Gas Task Force, which convenes key stakeholders to identify opportunities for gas sector growth and market reforms that will accelerate the deployment of natural gas in India. This supports the Indian Government’s goal of increasing the share of natural gas to 15 percent of the primary energy mix by 2030.
Since 2017, with support from both governments, the United States has become a significant source of energy for India. U.S. crude oil exports to India went from zero in 2016 to 93 million barrels in 2019, and U.S. liquefied natural gas exports grew more than five-fold from 2016 to 2019. Bilateral energy commodities and equipment trade reached $8.8 billion in 2019, more than quadrupling since 2016, and now accounts for approximately 10 percent of bilateral trade in goods. By 2019, India had become the largest export destination for U.S. coal, the fourth largest destination for U.S. crude, and the seventh largest destination for U.S. liquefied natural gas. Our two countries are also beginning cooperation on the operation and maintenance of our strategic petroleum reserves, including the exchange of information and best practices.
All of this has helped diversify India’s energy sources with reliable, market-based suppliers.
In addition, the United States has supported the modernization of the power grid in India and the development of energy storage technologies. These include the integration of large-scale renewable energy into the grid, the use of smart grids and smart meters by distribution utilities, and the deployment of large-scale rooftop solar power projects. We also established the U.S.-India Hydrogen Task Force to help scale up technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and fossil fuel sources. And Americans have worked with Indians to facilitate high performance buildings in India that are smart, green, and energy efficient.
There are now over 100 U.S. companies of varying sizes involved with energy that have a presence in India. These firms work across all elements of the sector, including power, oil, gas, petrochemicals, nuclear, renewables, biofuels, and energy-related goods and services. They include Westinghouse, which remains hard at work to realize the full potential of our civil nuclear cooperation and provide clean, reliable power to millions of Indians.
U.S. investors have also acquired stakes in Indian-registered and operated companies that are active in the domestic energy sector. And Indian firms have invested in the U.S. energy sector, seeking to expand access to reliable sources of energy and related technology. As India’s economy continues to recover and expand, our work together in the energy sector will be an increasingly important component of our overall strategic partnership.
Health and Biomedical Innovation
Let me highlight another important pillar of our strategic partnership – one of particular salience over the past eleven months. This is the field of health and biomedicine.
In fact, this is one of the oldest and most successful areas of cooperation between the United States and India. Individually and collectively, Americans and Indians have made many contributions to the health of our people and those around the world. Our Health Dialogue, which last met in 2019, addresses six thematic areas of cooperation – research and innovation, health safety and security, communicable disease, non-communicable disease, health systems, and health policy.
Our history of successful cooperation shaped our joint response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the onset of the pandemic, public health scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – known as the CDC – have supported India’s COVID-19 field response. They have assisted with technical guidance and training on a range of issues, including contact tracing, diagnostic testing, and infection prevention and control at health facilities. Hundreds of Indian graduates of CDC training programs have been at the forefront of India’s efforts, providing expertise to prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 virus across the country.
USAID has also been deeply involved in working with India on COVID-19 issues. As of November 2020, USAID had helped to train more than 46,000 health workers and 79,000 front-line COVID-19 workers, supported 961 healthcare facilities, and worked with the private sector to improve digital health solutions. The U.S. Government also donated 200 state-of-the-art, U.S.-manufactured ventilators to 29 facilities, and provided $5 million to support small- and medium-sized enterprises in the areas hit hardest by the pandemic. By the end of 2020, the United States had dedicated more than $26.6 million in new funding to support India’s response to the pandemic.
U.S. and Indian scientists are collaborating to jointly develop and test vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for COVID-19.Institutions and companies from both countries are partnering to utilize India’s large manufacturing capacity for the production of approved COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Government of India have worked together to ensure the safety and efficacy of medical products and to prevent the marketing of unapproved products that fraudulently claim to fight or cure COVID-19.
Apart from COVID-19, in recent years the United States and India have increased cooperation on a new threat to global health – antimicrobial resistance. This occurs when microbes develop immunity to the drugs designed to kill them. I was pleased to help inaugurate India’s Antimicrobial Resistance Hub in Kolkata in 2019. Today, U.S. and Indian scientists are building surveillance systems and studying pathogens so that they can develop medical countermeasures against this threat.
In addition, the United States and India have strengthened cooperation to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases, with a particular focus on tuberculosis. In 2019, USAID and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare jointly launched “The Corporate TB Pledge” for the elimination of TB in India, and have subsequently received commitments from more than 100 U.S. and Indian corporations.
We have also made progress on environmental issues that affect our health. The United States has contributed to India’s efforts to better understand and monitor air pollution through scientific exchanges, technological collaboration, and data collection. And we held our first U.S.-India Oceanic Dialogue in 2017 to discuss sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, and exchanged best practices on the preservation of rivers and other types of water management.
The growth of India’s healthcare sector, including the pharmaceutical industry, has contributed to increasing connections between U.S. and Indian companies. More and more Indian healthcare facilities are using equipment designed or manufactured in the United States, while an increasing number of U.S. citizens are consuming medicines developed or produced in India. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, India was the second largest supplier of drugs and medicinal products to the United States in our last fiscal year.
There remains enormous potential for further collaboration between our health sectors, including as both countries seek to develop new and more secure supply chains for pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies. This is a good news story not just for the United States and India, but for the health and well-being of people around the world.
Let me now turn to our people-to-people relationship, which is anchored by approximately four million Indian Americans. Although it was trade that first brought us together with the docking of American merchant ships in India in 1784, there has always been an element of mutual fascination and kinship – viewing each other as Sisters and Brothers, to use the words of Vivekananda – despite the distance. This has inspired travel across the oceans to pursue college degrees, start new jobs, attend medical conferences, conduct Nobel Prize-winning economic research, make religious pilgrimages, and much more. A senior official in India once told me that her most precious investment is in the United States. Before I could even imagine what that might be, she added with a smile that the investment is her children.
In great democracies such as ours, governments listen to public sentiment. Our people-to-people relationship forms both a strong foundation and a driving force for what our nations can do together.
When I first arrived as Ambassador in November 2017, then Foreign Secretary Jaishankar urged me to get outside of Delhi to meet the people of India and really understand this country. And I did just that, traveling to every State and most Union Territories, and meeting with leaders from politics, business, religion, civil society, and cultural endeavors, as well as students, shopkeepers, factory workers, farmers, young entrepreneurs, and many others. While I have traveled to numerous countries throughout my career, I always tell friends that India – with its history, culture, spirituality, and diversity – is the most fascinating of them all. I can truly say that “Incredible India” is not just a clever advertising slogan; it is a statement of fact.
In his Howdy Modi Speech in Houston in September 2019, the Prime Minister made this significant statement about India:“[O]ur country has different sects, dozens of denominations, different methods of worship, hundreds of different regional cuisines, different clothing patterns, different seasons, which made this land amazing. Unity in diversity is our heritage, this is our specialty. This diversity of India is the very basis of our Vibrant Democracy. This is our source of power and inspiration. Wherever we go, we carry the rites of diversity and democracy along with us.”
These were powerful words then and are powerful words now. India’s embrace of diversity will always be what makes it exceptional. It is a source of strength for this great country and an inspiration for all of us. It is also something to which we Americans can relate. Just as Indians have long referred to “unity in diversity,” Americans have long used the Latin phrase “epluribus unum” – out of many, one. Both the United States and India have benefited from our diverse populations, with individuals from many backgrounds contributing to all aspects of our societies. That is the promise guaranteed by our Constitutions. While neither of us is – or has been – perfect, we understand that preserving our commitment to diversity and tolerance is important to maintaining our status in the world and the strength of our bilateral relationship.
When you step back and look at where the United States and India were 20 years ago and where we are today, the amount of progress and achievement is truly remarkable. I do not think that anyone would have predicted this type of relationship when we started working on some of these issues at the turn of the century.
Today, the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is strong, positive, and on an upward trajectory. It has been deliberately guided by our governments, who have followed the wisdom of Tagore when he observed that “you can’t cross the sea simply by standing and staring at the water.” Leaders in both countries have recognized that getting this relationship right is important for us and for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
It is worth noting that each recent U.S. Administration has successfully built upon the work of its predecessor in enhancing ties with India. I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past four years, and I am confident that the next U.S. Administration will continue this trend. The United States remains committed to this region – and to India – because our future is inextricably linked to it. It is a durable commitment, supported by the desires of our citizens, our common democratic principles, our shared interests, and our economic and commercial ties. And America’s support for India’s rise as a global power is clear across our political spectrum.
As Ambassador, I have dedicated myself to bringing our countries together, knowing the significance of this endeavor in today’s world. I will always remember how people from all parts of India received me, as the representative of the United States – with kindness, respect, great warmth, and tremendous generosity. It was a daily reminder of how far we have come in the U.S.-India relationship, of how much we have achieved as a result of our ambition, and of how this relationship has made a positive impact on individuals across both of our countries.
I began my tenure as a friend and a fan of India. My admiration for this great country has only grown. I will always be grateful for this opportunity to engage in such a meaningful and satisfying job –one that I have enjoyed immensely. Please know that I am forever a very close and dear friend of India.
Thank you very much.