Outgoing Indian Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu has said that US-India ties are progressing in the right trajectory and a lot has to be covered, keeping in mind the “big picture”.
Addressing a farewell reception held in his honour on Thursday, hosted by the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), the envoy said that the relationship between the two democracies is “bound to go forward and deeper.”
Highlighting various aspects of the relationship, Sandhu particularly underscored the defence and strategic partnership between the two countries that has expanded to USD 25 billion over the years.
Sandhu stressed that the great significance of India-US ties is the fact that the two nations are now collaborating, co-producing, and co-developing in the defence sector.
“When I started, there were zero dollars of trade between the United States and India and we talk of 25 billion now. But the beautiful part is going much beyond the trade now we are talking about collaborating, co-producing, co-developing. So the GE (General Electric) deal is very, very significant,” ANI quoted him as saying.
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) President and CEO Mukesh Aghi also spoke at the event and lauded Sandhu’s tenure.
“I think what he accomplished last four years…is basically measurable. Thank you for what you have done,” Dr Aghi added.
Ashley Tellis, one of the strongest advocates of closer US-India ties in Washington DC also praised Sandhu and his tenure calling him a “deciduous contributor” to this relationship.
“He (Sandhu) has been a deciduous contributor to this relationship because he understood right from the beginning how important this partnership is for the future of both our countries. In this last tenure here in Washington, we had to deal with a very complex environment in terms of our bilateral relationship. But the fact that we have still managed to stay the course and move this relationship ever upward is a great tribute to you,” Tellis said.
It has been a series of bittersweet adieus for the seasoned and skilled Indian ambassador Sandhu who will soon depart for Delhi later this month.. Sandhu served the Indian Foreign Services for 35 years and was posted in the United States four times, including three in Washington DC.
Sandhu assumed charge as the Indian Ambassador to the United States in February l2020. Sandhu’s most immediate task after being appointed was then-President Donald Trump’s India visit, followed by keeping up the momentum in bilateral ties.
Born on January 23, 1963, in a family of educationists, Sandhu studied at The Lawrence School, Sanawar and graduated with History Honors from St. Stephens’ College, Delhi. He pursued a Master’s Degree in International Relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
He is one of the most experienced Indian diplomats on US affairs, having served in the Indian Mission in Washington DC twice earlier. He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of India in Washington DC from July 2013 to January 2017.
Earlier, he was the First Secretary (Political) at the Embassy of India, Washington DC, responsible for liaison with the United States Congress from 1997 to 2000. He has also been at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, New York, from July 2005 to February 2009.
He came to Washington from Sri Lanka where he had a remarkably successful tenure as the High Commissioner from January 2017 to January 2020. Sandhu was the Consul General of India in Frankfurt from September 2011 to July 2013.
Besides this, he has worked in the Ministry of External Affairs in various capacities – as Joint Secretary (United Nations) from March 2009 to August 2011; and later as Joint Secretary (Administration) heading the Human Resource Division.
He was an Officer on Special Duty (Press Relations) at the Ministry of External Affairs from December 1995 to March 1997 and was responsible for liaison with foreign media in India.
In a distinguished career spanning over 35years in the Indian Foreign Service since 1988, Ambassador Sandhu started his diplomatic career in the former Soviet Union (Russia) where he worked as Third Secretary (Political)/Second Secretary (Commercial) in the Indian Mission from 1990 to 1992.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, he was sent to open a new Embassy in Ukraine. He served as Head of Political and Administration Wings in the Indian Embassy in Kyiv from 1992 to 1994.