U.S. increasing tilt towards India

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in the Breakfast on the Hill initiative organized by the U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) in Washington, D.C., affirmed that the United States is increasing its tilt towards India. “At a time when the global economy is in recession, India’s strengthening economy makes it an attractive partner to the United States,” Lugar said.

Lugar was one of several key U.S. Congressional leaders USINPAC met on security, trade and issues of concern to the Indian American community. The USINPAC delegation comprised leading Indian Americans. Among them were Ravi Akhoury, chairman and CEO of MacKay Shields, a multi-product investment management firm; Armeane M. Choksi, president and CEO, Rubicon Capital Investment; Dr. Pravin R. Chaturvedi, president and CEO of Scion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Natwar M. Gandhi, CFO for the District of Columbia; Rakesh Gupta, chairman and co-founder, Tech-Books; Manish Thakur, an independent consultant providing finance and strategic advisory services to the space and communications sectors; and Dr. Mihir Meghani, who is part of the U.S. CA-6 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).

The delegation also met Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee. “Talks are fine, but we are eagerly waiting results,” said Sanjay Puri, executive director of USINPAC, over the phone from D.C. “The Indian American community is getting more visibility but we need to translate that into results.”

USINPAC shared with Lugar the concerns of the Indian American community regarding emerging threats to U.S. security, and proposed an expansion of U.S.-India strategic ties at a time when the American military is stretched globally due to obligations in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, East Asia and Afghanistan. Lugar noted that the United States seeks to further engage India in addressing global problems such as Iraq. Commenting on India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the Senator stated that the “U.S. realizes that the world order had changed dramatically since the end of World War II, and therefore it is appropriate to examine the future governance of the U.N.”

While preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists remains a top U.S. priority, Lugar informed USINPAC that he would soon hold hearings on exporting dual-use technologies to friendly countries such as India. In response to a question regarding the lack of protection for intellectual property rights in pharmaceutical research and development, the Senator said that settling such issues would require tough bilateral negotiations.

On being asked about the ongoing INS Alien Registration program, and the possibility of India being added to the list, Lugar said he hopes “the coming shakeup of non-democratic regimes in the Middle East will result in decreased disaffection for the United States in those countries. That would result in less dependence on registration.” The UNSINPAC delegation met and apprised Warner of the community’s deep interest in expanding U.S. defense ties with India to foster a long-term alliance to address the joint threats facing both countries.

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