|Scores of lawmakers from the House and Senate attended a gala organized by an Indian American organization to celebrate the work of the Congressional Caucus for India and Indian Americans. The caucus is considered the largest on Capitol Hill getting bipartisan support from members who across the board consider India a close friend of Washington, and the Indian American community as a model for emulation. The gala was organized by the Indian American Forum for Political Education along with other community organizations and included the annual gala appreciation dinner on Nov. 28 as well as a luncheon discussion with Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker, member of the U.S. Armed Services Committee, on Nov. 29, an event IAFPE coordinated with the U.S.-India Security Forum.The gala was held in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building adjacent to the Capitol building.More than 200 Indian- Americans from around the country, including Dr. Sudhir Parikh, publisher of News India Times and recipient of the Padma Shri award, listened to the 20-plus Democratic and Republican lawmakers who showed up to speak and pledge support for strengthening bilateral relations with India, Dr. Sampath Shivangi, president of IAFPE told News India Times.Shivangi gave the welcome address calling for expanded relations in agriculture, education, and other sectors between the two democracies, thanking those present for supporting the civil nuclear cooperation deal with India, and urging everyone to push for overcoming hurdles in the way of completing the deal. Numerous elected representatives addressed the gathering, among them Senators Ben Nelson, D-Neb.; Mark Warner, D-Va., Democratic co-chair of the Senate India Caucus; Reps. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., Democratic co-chair of the House India Caucus; Ed Royce, R-Calif., co-chair of the House India Caucus and now incoming chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee; Frank Pallone, D-N.J.; Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.; Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.; Congressmen Gregg Harper and Alan Nunnelee, both Republicans from Mississippi; and Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Royce noted how the India Caucus has become one of the powerful country caucuses on the Hill and its important role during the civil nuclear cooperation treaty.Crowley declared India would be Washington’s most important ally in the next decade. Warner praised the Indian American community and emphasized the enormous economic opportunities ahead of the two countries, especially in the energy sector.Nunnelee, a new caucus member said he will be visiting India in February and Bilirakis declared he is becoming a member of the India caucus.
Other speakers included India’s Deputy Chief of Mission Arun Kumar. Shivangi told News India Times that among several people who helped with the gala reception were IAFPE committee members Satish Korpe and Dr. Ram Singh.
At the Nov. 29 seminar entitled “The Indo Pacific Seas: Changes and Challenges for the Indian and US Navies in the 21st Century, held at the prestigious Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, noted the 10-year framework agreement signed between former President George W. Bush and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005, calling it a solid road map for future collaboration.
He also spoke of the rapidly expanding defense cooperation between the two democracies, Raj Kadian, chair of the US-India Security Forum moderated the discussion.