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FIIDS Raises Key US-India Policy Issues On Capital Hill

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Washington, DC: The Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) held a US-India Summit at Capitol Hill, marking a significant milestone in the advocacy and engagement of the Indian American community in US politics. The event, drawing in over 135 delegates from 22 states, saw discussions and meetings with more than 83 elected officials from 35 states, focusing on key policy issues pertinent to the Indian diaspora and US-India relations.

FIIDS Chief of Policy and Strategy, Khanderao Kand, underscored the success of the summit, emphasising the organization’s campaign to address crucial topics such as the ICET tech export exemption, elevating India’s Major Defense Partner status, immigration reform to tackle the green card backlog, and combating religious bias and hate crimes against Indian Americans, particularly Hindus. The discussions also covered Indo-Pacific security, reflecting the strategic importance of the US-India partnership.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Nancy Jackson, hailed the US-India relationship as the “most consequential relationship,” highlighting major diplomatic engagements in 2023, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit and President Joe Biden’s participation in the G20 Summit. Jackson quoted PM Modi, emphasising the expansive scope of the partnership: “No corner of human enterprise is untouched by the partnership between our two countries from the sea to the stars.”

Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan lauded the transformation in bilateral relations, noting the shift from frequent disagreements to a strong consensus on key issues. She commended FIIDS for its role in fortifying the relationship and representing the interests of the Indian diaspora.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi emphasised the importance of political involvement for Indian Americans, stating, “If you don’t have a seat on the table, you’re on the menu.” He celebrated India’s rise on the global stage and urged the community to participate in politics, declaring, “It’s time to run for office… I don’t care if you’re a Republican, independent, or Democrat.”

Echoing this sentiment, Congressman Ro Khanna reflected on the progress of Indian American political engagement, recalling a time when it was challenging to gather even a few Indian Americans on Capitol Hill. He encouraged the community to embrace their identity and actively engage in the political process.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director, Dr. Seturaman Panchanathan, discussed the strategic collaborations between the NSF and Indian institutions, highlighting joint projects in areas like Arctic exploration and the application of AI in agriculture.

Congressman Dr. Rich McCormick advocated for a more flexible immigration policy, introducing a bipartisan bill to eliminate the 7% cap on green cards and reduce the backlog. He emphasized the growing influence of the Indian American community, noting its potential impact on future presidential elections.

Ambassador Atul Keshap highlighted the significant contributions of Indian Americans, who, despite being only 1.5% of the US population, contribute 6% of the tax revenue. He called for ambitious efforts to maximize the potential of bilateral trade, urging, “Let’s be more ambitious… so much more can energize our relationship.”

US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) CEO Dr. Mukesh Aghi emphasized the multifaceted nature of the US-India relationship, from economic ties to geopolitical and domestic dimensions. He pointed out the substantial economic contributions, including $122 billion in intellectual power and 300,000 chip designers, stressing the importance of political engagement for continued growth.

Jason Isaacson, Chief of Strategy at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), highlighted the promise of the I2U2 partnership and appreciated the support for Israel during challenging times in the Middle East. Several congressmen, including Rep. Glenn Grothman and Rep. Dan Meuser, expressed admiration for Indian American values and the positive economic impact of Indian businesses in states like Pennsylvania.

The summit saw active participation from youth advocates and community leaders. FIIDS Policy Advocate Yogi Chugh highlighted the involvement of young delegates, many under 30, in the advocacy efforts. Community leaders, including Dr. Bharat Barai, Suhag Shukla, and Utsav Chakravarty, praised FIIDS for its role in raising awareness about key issues affecting the Indian diaspora.

The US-India Summit 2024 not only reinforced the significance of the US-India relationship but also demonstrated the growing political influence and engagement of the Indian American community. With continued advocacy and strategic collaborations, the future of US-India relations looks promising, fostering mutual growth and prosperity.

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