Senator Ossoff welcomes Ambassador Sandhu to Atlanta
On January 16, Senator Jon Ossoff held a community reception for Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu with the support of Dr. Swati Kulkarni, the Consul General of India in Atlanta; and Jim Gilvin, the Mayor of Alpharetta, at Alpharetta City Hall.
[Left] Community members at the reception organized by Senator Jon Ossoff for Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu with the support of Dr. Swati Kulkarni, CGI Atlanta, and Jim Gilvin, the Mayor of Alpharetta.
This event marked the second visit to Atlanta by Ambassador Sandhu whose assignment to the U.S. was recently extended until 2024. Senator Ossoff and Consul General Kulkarni both praised the Ambassador’s dedication to diplomacy and his deft leadership when introducing him. “Since he arrived here in February 2020, he has relentlessly pursued a single focus: how to diversify this beautiful strategic relationship,” Dr. Kulkarni said. “He has skillfully navigated us during this pandemic, during this economic uncertainty, and during the ongoing war in Ukraine.”
The bilateral relationship between India and the United States was the central focus of the reception. Ambassador Sandhu said that the U.S.-India relationship has progressed significantly since his first stint in the U.S. as a congressional officer in 1997 and pointed to the frequent meetings between President Biden and Prime Minister Modi as well as other government officials as evidence of the strength of the connection. “Just look at the armies... of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, China, etc. and you will see why it is so imperative for the United States and India to be [strategic] partners,” said he. “But there are so many other aspects which are leading to the deepening of this relationship, and Atlanta and Georgia actually have got a whole lot of scope in ensuring that this deepening and strengthening happens.” He highlighted the key role that partnerships between India and the U.S. in the healthcare sector have played in ensuring hospitals are supplied with affordable Rotavirus and Covid-19 vaccines and emphasized the importance of the contributions that Indian students and innovators have made in the STEM fields including the renewable energy industry.
Senator Ossoff and Ambassador Sandhu both expressed an interest in developing research and academic partnerships between institutes in Georgia and India. Senator Ossoff said he hopes “to strengthen agricultural commerce between our countries, to strengthen the research ties between our countries, and to continue working with the ambassador.” To that end, Senator Ossoff has already brought up the issue of India’s high pecan tariffs and the impact of the tariffs on Georgia farmers in a previous meeting with the Ambassador and is reportedly striving to strengthen commercial ties between Georgia and India in the renewable energy sector.
Consul General Kulkarni said she was happy that Senator Ossoff was “working with [them] to open a trade office of Georgia in India,” a project that the senator had expressed an interest in initiating after he returned from his delegation to India in September of 2022.
The Senator also spoke fondly of his time in India saying that he chose to lead the delegation to India because of the importance of the strategic, economic, academic, cultural, and scientific ties between India and the U.S. and because of his appreciation for Georgia’s Indian- American community. “I have made my office’s outreach to the Indian-American community amongst our highest priorities,” Senator Ossoff said. “My ambition is to be the most visible, the most responsive, and the most present federal representative that Georgia’s Indian-American community has ever had.”
Ambassador Sandhu commended Senator Ossoff for his continual support. “His leadership is very critical not only for the United States but also for this beautiful emerging relationship,” he said.
[Right] Senator Jon Ossoff and Ambassador Sandhu shake hands at the reception.
The significance of the reception falling on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was not lost on Senator Ossoff or Ambassador Sandhu who expressed reverence for the ties between Mahatma Gandhi and civil rights leaders Dr. King and Congressman John Lewis.
The reception brought together dozens of leaders from the local Indian American community and local governments to celebrate the budding relationship between India and the U.S. and to honor Georgia’s growing Indian-American community. Among the dignitaries in attendance were the Mayor of Johns Creek, John Bradberry; Alpharetta City Council Member, John Hipes; Co-Chair of Leadership - North Fulton, Lalitha Alladi; Direct Resource Group CEO, David Gault; Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Indian-American Cultural Association, Ani Agnihotri; IACA Board of Directors Member Chand Akkineni; Telugu Association of Metro Atlanta President, Sairam Karumanchi; Johns Creek City Council Member, Dilip Tunki; President of the Asian Pacific American Council of Georgia, Sudhir Agarwal; former Republican nominee for the Georgia State Assembly’s House of Representatives, Narender Reddy; and President of the Atlanta Chapter of Sewa International, Srikanth Gundavarapu.
Following the reception, the Consul General held a dinner for all the dignitaries in Buckhead. These events constitute some of the Consul’s final community engagement events as she concludes her time as the Consul General of India in Atlanta and awaits her next assignment from the Indian government.
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