ANI Photo | “Sandhu has been one of leading architects of India-US relationship”: USISPF President as he bids adieu to Indian envoy

President and CEO of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), Mukesh Aghi, highlighted that outgoing Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, has been one of the leading architects of India-US relationship.
He stressed that the most important strategic partnership of the 21st century, between Washington and New Delhi, requires the art of deft diplomacy and sagacious statecraft.
USISPF President Aghi bid adieu to envoy Sandhu who has ended his four-year tenure in Washington.
“It is with a heavy heart that we must bid adieu to one of New Delhi’s finest diplomatic stalwarts. Ambassador Sandhu ends his four-year tenure in Washington and brings down the curtain on a decorated 35-year diplomatic career,” Aghi said in a statement.
“Ambassador Sandhu has been one of the leading architects of this relationship, which stands at its apex from the deep synergy in clean energy, education partnership, space collaboration, defence, and technology ties,” he said.
Reiterating Sandhu’s statement, “once said retirement and taxes are two things that must never be put off,” Aghi said that New Delhi has always sent its brightest minds to Washington, but few have come more experienced in understanding the contours of US-India relations than Ambassador Sandhu, who is finishing his fourth stint in the US.
“The most important strategic partnership of the 21st century, one between Washington and New Delhi, requires the art of deft diplomacy and sagacious statecraft,” he added.
He further emphasised that when Sandhu took charge in Washington in February 2020, ominous times, he was about to upend our economies and suspend our daily lives, adding that his resume of achievements remains long and impressive.
Highlighting the period of COVID-19, he praised Sandhu and said that he steered through COVID-19, helping Indian students return home.
“A cataclysmic pandemic meant new challenges even for a veteran diplomat. Ambassador Sandhu steered through COVID-19, helping Indian students return home, working through visa backlogs for the diaspora, and strengthening vaccine diplomacy between our two countries,” Aghi added.
“A post-Covid-era saw the onset of Ambassador Sandhu helping lead the first in-principal Quad Summit in Washington, the restart of the Trade Policy Forum, and then the onset of the I2U2, IPEF, consolidating bilateral ties in multilateral settings,” he stated.
Further bringing the Indo-Pacific, Aghi said that the Indo-Pacific is a priority as envoy Sandhu has overseen new defence partnerships.
“Today, the Indo-Pacific is a priority, as Ambassador Sandhu has overseen new defence partnerships, from iCET to INDUS-X, to drone transfers to jet engine manufacturing deals, from semiconductors to supply chains, ushering in a new chapter in critical technology,” he said.
He further stated that the highlights would be the historic state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden’s first visit to India as Commander-in-chief for a momentous G20 summit, and also organizing former President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India.
Further, he noted that the India-US relationship was not always smooth.
“However, while we celebrate the successes today, we must remember that the relationship wasn’t always smooth sailing,” he said.
Ambassador Sandhu’s perspicacity was evinced early on, during his first Washington stint as the First Secretary (Political) as he formed crucial relations on Capitol Hill, with both Democrat and Republican lawmakers, during a time of sanctions from the Clinton Administration.
“Today, the relationship is truly bipartisan, and the India Caucus and the Samosa Caucus, are in deep admiration of Ambassador Sandhu’s diplomatic efforts to steer the relationship from choppy waters then to the pristine seas now,” Aghi said, adding that his second stint in Washington was as second in command to EAM Jaishankar, as then DCM Sandhu and Ambassador Jaishankar, wrote the beginning chapters of PM Modi’s engagement with the US.
Highlighting the bond between Sandhu and the Indian diaspora in the US, he further said, “But more important than the dossiers, visits, and agreements, have been the intangible bonds of friendship that Ambassador Sandhu has forged with the diaspora.”
From young students to veteran business leaders, from entrepreneurs to titans, from cultural communities and caucuses, the diaspora across the US has at least one Ambassador Sandhu story, he stressed.
Ambassador Sandhu is a veteran envoy, but a lifelong learner, and has been a mentor to many in India’s Foreign Service, some of whom will walk in his shoes one day.
Retirement is a time of reflection, and history will put Ambassador Sandhu in the highest echelons of India’s finest emissaries to Washington.
“Historians will note that he changed the nature of the relationship, forged new connections, strengthened the strategic partnership, and above all remained affable and humble in challenging and celebratory times,” Aghi said, concluding, “Fare thee well!!” (ANI)

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