As the Biden administration prepares to take the reigns of the country, India’s top diplomat in the US has said that New Delhi’s priorities for relations with America in the days ahead can be described into five baskets: strategic, COVID-19, ICT-digital, climate change and education. India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu made the comments during his address at the PaanIIT Global Summit on Friday.
Many people ask me about what India’s priorities are for India-US relations in the days ahead. I tell them about five main baskets, Sandhu said. One of course strategic; two, COVID related, as it is an immediate priority for both countries – pharma, healthcare, vaccine come under this basket; third, the ICT-digital-start up space which has the ability to transform our lives forever; where many of you are leaders; fourth, climate change, environment, and renewables especially solar; and last but not least, education, he said.
President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, is due to take over as the 46th US President on January 20 after he defeated incumbent President Donald Trump, a Republican, in the November 3 presidential election. Noting that knowledge, like happiness, doubles when shared, he said that Mahatma Gandhi taught us not to wall our houses or stuff our windows; he wanted the cultures of all lands to be blown about as freely as possible but without being blown off the feet, he said.
With the same spirit, Government of India has recently introduced the New Education Policy (NEP) after a gap of 34 years, he added. The NEP opens up new opportunities to forge even stronger tie-ups between Indian and US academic institutions, he said, adding that the embassy’s Education Team has already been in touch with several US universities.
I have personally written to many Presidents. We at the Embassy look forward to facilitating more partnerships, he said. The NEP approved by the Union Cabinet replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education framed in 1986 and is aimed at paving the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems to make India a global knowledge superpower.
The NEP allows top ranking institutes of the world to set-up campuses in India. Earlier, the HRD Ministry had introduced several initiatives under the Study in India programme. Sandhu said the four million strong Indian-American community and the 200,000 Indian students in the US, mostly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) areas, have been a source of strength for India-US relations.
As Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi said, a nation like India, endowed with youth power, cannot afford to dream small. In the US, we see a very close friend and strong partner, who is critical to transforming those dreams, the development aspirations of 1.3 billion people into reality, he said. In the post-COVID world, we will need concerted and focused efforts to advance people-to-people linkages between our two countries. These could also be critical to shaping global growth trajectory, he added.
Observing that given the multifaceted nature of India-US relations, there is currently no area of human endeavour where India and the US are not collaborating with each other, the ambassador said. The two countries have indeed come a long way; but they do have a long way to go too, given the true potential of relations.
And Governments cannot do this alone. People like you, the business and industry, have to take forward the agenda so that the entire world can benefit, Sandhu said.