On January 3rd, Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-02) returned to the United States after her three-week inaugural visit to India. After meeting with Prime Minister Modi during his visit to New York last year, she was invited to visit India for a journey that was both diplomatic as well as personal. Congresswoman Gabbard is the first-ever practitioner of Hinduism to be elected to Congress. Recently re-elected, Congresswoman Gabbard is a member of both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans. While visiting the Indian state of Goa, Congresswoman Gabbard advocated a sister state partnership given the similarities between Hawai‘i and the popular Indian beach resort region. She also expressed interest in collaborating with India’s film industry to have Indian movies filmed in Hawai‘i. An avid fan of yoga, Congresswoman Gabbard also expanded her support for Prime Minister Modi’s call for and International Yoga Day while visiting Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University.
Domestically, the United States government is also demonstrating the growing importance of India to the US, such as with the confirmations of two Indian-Americans into important government offices. On December 10th, 2014 Richard Verma was confirmed as the first-ever Indian-American to hold the position of Ambassador to India, and on December 15th, Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the US Senate to become the first-ever Indian-American and youngest-ever US Surgeon General. In the House of Representatives, the India Caucus welcomed its new co-chairs on December 11th, 2014. Congressman George Holding (R-NC) and Ami Bera (D-CA), the only Indian-American in Congress, both have long histories with India and are planning to expand those ties even further as they begin their tenures for the 114th Congress.
US officials at the local level have also continued to embrace India as a diplomatic and economic partner. In November 2014, Maryland’s Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett led a trade delegation of local business leaders to India. During the trip, Montgomery County businesses, particularly in the technology and pharmaceutical fields, met with their Indian counterparts to expand trade. In that same month, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, herself Indian-American, led a trade delegation to India to promote South Carolinian businesses.