US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti delivers distinguished public lecture at JGU

Inside JGU

April 2024

US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti delivers distinguished public lecture at JGU

Jindal School of International Affairs, Jindal India Institute, and Jindal Global Centre for G20 Studies jointly hosted Mr. Eric M. Garcetti, Ambassador of the United States of America to India, on JGU campus on April 8. Ambassador Garcetti delivered a distinguished public lecture on the theme ‘The Most Consequential Relationship of the Century: Indo-American Ties’ during his visit to the campus.

Ambassador Garcetti’s perspective on Indo-American ties focused on the shared aspirations and the collective pursuit of a world characterised by what he called ‘4 Ps’: peace, prosperity, planet, and people. He narrated personal memories of magical moments he experienced during his visits to India since childhood. He said he had a deep emotional connection with India for decades and stated “India never left my soul”. He mentioned US President Joe Biden had told him that India “was the most important country in the world” and that Washington’s ties with New Delhi were “the most consequential” for shaping the world order in the 21st century.

Ambassador Garcetti termed the ties between the US and India as “not an additive relationship but a multiplicative relationship” between the world’s two largest democracies, underscored by a robust exchange in education, trade, and the joint venture of envisioning a green energy future. During the interactive session that followed, the audience engaged the Ambassador on a diverse array of topics spanning domestic politics in India, racial discrimination in the US, regional security dynamics in the Indo-Pacific, the role of artificial intelligence and critical and emerging technologies in the US-India strategic partnership, and the potential of multilateral groupings like the Quad being expanded or extended to include more countries.

On controversies regarding comments made by the US about internal developments in India, Ambassador Garcetti said that the US is a unique democracy where every branch of government, the news media and civil society has its own views and opinions about different countries. These opinions are frequently aired publicly as part of the open American political system. At the same time, the US is ready to also take criticism from other countries as part of this liberal ethos. Ambassador Garcetti praised India for organising mammoth general elections with nearly one billion voters in the electorate and said that “the US has something to learn from India” in how to improve its electoral practices and procedures.

On the question of Arunachal Pradesh being an integral part of India, the Ambassador was categorical that China has no business to rename places that are part of India’s sovereign territory. He reiterated that the US fully supports India’s sovereignty and that the defence cooperation between the two partners is reaching unprecedented levels so as to deter aggressive authoritarian rival countries. He said that as two democracies, the US and India thought and felt alike about the threat posed by dictatorial regimes like that of China and that the convergence of values was the key factor driving Washington and New Delhi closer.

Speaking on this occasion, Dr. C. Raj Kumar, the Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, remarked, “We owe a tremendous intellectual debt to American universities for their open and generous support and capacity building of Indian higher education institutions. The way US universities have attained the highest standards in the world and solved the most intractable problems facing humanity is worth learning from and emulating for Indian academia. Education is going to be a transformative driving factor in the US-India partnership.”

The Dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs, Dr. Sreeram Chaulia, cited Ambassador Garcetti’s view that the US-India partnership had presently only reached the point of being “midway up the mountain” and referred to the limitless possibilities that lay ahead. Dr. Chaulia echoed India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar’s comments that “you ain’t seen anything yet” in the US-India friendship and pointed to the fact that “the two countries were jointly combating shared adversaries and remaking the Indo-Pacific in a way that only allies do.” While the US and India are not formal allies, many of the domains of bilateral cooperation are “going in the direction of a de facto alliance-like friendship.” Owing to this level of close intimacy, it is not uncommon that the US and India disagree on some matters. But “the basic fundamentals of the relationship are so strong that such disagreements and differences in assessment should not be exaggerated,” Dr. Chaulia noted.