Indian-Americans are an important stakeholder in the relationship between the two largest democracies of the world, Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu has said, urging the community to play a more active role in India's economic development, its recovery from COVID-19 pandemic, and help to strengthen the bilateral ties.
Ambassador Sandhu made those remarks during a virtual meeting with members of Indian American-community from in and around Washington DC on Thursday.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian ambassador has been holding virtual meetings with members of the Indian-American community from across the country. This was his seventh such meeting.
"The Indian American community is an important stakeholder, in our relationship with the United States," he said.
"We look forward to your ideas, and suggestions, on how we can leverage our strengths, for the transformation of India, and for strengthening India-US partnership. We would like to see you play, a more active role, in India's economic development and recovery, in the post-COVID scenario, as we look forward to seizing the opportunities, from the shifting supply chains," he said.
The Ambassador thanked the community members for their active support to stranded Indians.
"This has helped in supplementing the Embassy''s outreach to stranded Indians and students, during the COVID-19 pandemic. By helping with medical advice, prescriptions, helplines, provision of temporary accommodation and provision of even groceries, in some cases, you have helped us meet the challenges. I am aware that several of you contribute, to local and community organisations in India, and we welcome your engagement, with India''s development," he said.
Based on feedback from the community, the government has relaxed the travel restrictions, on OCI card-holders with specific categories, being allowed to travel on the Vande Bharat flights. In a separate move, the government has also announced relaxations on the renewal of OCI cards until December 31, 2020, he said.
Mr Sandhu said that during the pandemic, India and United States have been collaborating closely.
"Our network of scientific institutions, in India and the United States, are in touch with each other, on a real-time basis. Our pharmaceutical companies are working closely together, for co-development of a vaccine," he said.
There are at least three such collaborations. Gilead has entered into an agreement with seven Indian pharmaceutical companies to manufacture and distribute Remdesivir, which has been authorise for treating COVID-19, he said.
The relations between India and the US are underpinned by the shared values of democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law, the ambassador said.
"India-US relationship has also enjoyed bipartisan support, over the years. The Indian diaspora has played an important role of projecting a positive image of India, as a vibrant, democratic, and pluralistic society and a valuable partner for the United States," Mr Sandhu added.
"We are proud of the achievements of the 4 million plus Indian-American community in the United States. You occupy important positions, in various walks of life, including business, academia, research medicine, IT, management and real estate. This gives a different quality to our relationship with the United States and adds value to our partnership," he said.