Ramping up its diplomatic profile in Washington with an eye on the Donald Trump administration’s orientation towards business, the Indian embassy, for the first time, hosted a reception for US governors who gather in the capital every year for their winter meeting. It’s a prestigious event that India won the chance to host, over stiff competition from other missions.
More than 25 governors attended the Friday reception, a record of sorts for an event hosted by India, as was pointed out by Indian ambassador Navtej Sarna. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who is the chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA) talked about “the largest gathering of governors” and the Indian embassy being a fitting place to celebrate it. Also present was Terry Branstad of Iowa, who is heading to China as US ambassador — one of only two envoys named by Trump so far.
The reception aimed at showcasing for the governors the business potential of the partnership not only between the United States and India, but also between US states and India — Sarna called for “even greater attention” on the need for “state-to-state relations”.
The ambassador reminded his guests — who included CEOs and business leaders from India and the United States — the importance that Prime Minister Narendra Modi attaches to the development of states in India under the larger concept of “cooperative federalism”.
Picking up the thread, McAuliffe spoke about leading a trade delegation to India himself — which was his 15th visit to India in all, he pointed out — and was effusive about the bilateral relationship. And it was about his state as well — Virginia gets 30,000 visitors from India every year, bringing it business worth $30 million, he said.
Other governors who attended were from Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, the US Virgin Islands, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The reception comes close on the heels of a combined delegation of 27 US members of the House of Representatives that visited India last week, and set another record for the maximum number of lawmakers the country hosted at the same time.