Paul Ryan, US House Speaker, Invites Narendra Modi to Address the Congress

Narendra ModiUS House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision of inviting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address  a joint meeting of Congress was welcomed by the lawmakers. After a decade, Modi will be the fifth prime minister of India to visit Congress and is the first announced foreign leader to address a joint meeting under Ryan’s speakership. Modi is all set to arrive in the US on June 8th, 2016. The opportunity to address the House and the Senate are considered a great honor. The decision demonstrates the strength and strategic partnership ties between US and India. It presents an opportunity to energize efforts and bilateral ties to achieve joint economic, security and strategic goals that increase peace and prosperity.

Back in 2014, the then Speaker Boehner had invited Modi in September to address a joint meeting of the US Congress, however, that did not take place as the Congress was in recess ahead of the 2014 general elections for the Congress. Manmohan Singh was the last Indian Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of the US congress way back in July, 2005. Other honorable prime ministers who addressed the Congress include Atal Bihari Vajpayee (September 14, 2000), P V Narasimha Rao (May 18, 1994) and Rajiv Gandhi (July 13, 1985). We can witness the dynamic growth and change in bilateral relationship between US-India since India’s independence in 1947 and it has grown tremendously.

As part of his itinerary, Modi may visit National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and new initiatives are likely to be announced. During his recent visit to Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit, a commercial agreement between Westinghouse Electric and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd to build six nuclear reactors in Gujarat was to be finalized and signed; this is expected to happen in his next visit in June.

President Barack Obama nominates Indian-American Geeta Pasi as US envoy to Chad!

Geeta PasiOn the 19th of April, 2016, United States President Barack Obama nominated Geeta Pasi, an Indian-American, as the country’s next envoy to Chad. Ms Pasi served as the United States Ambassador to Djibouti from 2011 to 2014, is a career member of the Foreign Service and Class of Minister-Counselor. At present, she serves as the Director of the Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State.

Since joining the Foreign Service in 1988, Geeta Pasi also served at a number of diplomatic positions in Cameroon, Ghana, India and Romania. Pasi received her BA from Duke University and an MA in French Studies from New York University. To add to her wealthy experience, Ms Pasi was also the Director of the Office of East African Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs from 2009 to 2011, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Dhaka from 2006 to 2009 and Deputy Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany from 2003 to 2006. She also worked as an institutional financial market researcher in New York.

“I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have decided to serve our country. I look forward to working with them,” President Obama said in a statement issued by the White House on April 19. The appointment of Geeta Pasi is another milestone for the Indian-American community to celebrate with pride in their hearts, on the everlasting successes and contributions by these influential figures. USINAPAC congratulates Geeta Pasi on her massive achievement and appointment as US envoy to Chad.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to India – Another milestone to strengthen ties between the two nations

Indo US Defence Ministers PCThe logistics support agreement which has been under negotiations for over 10 years was finally brought to a conclusion on Tuesday, where the two countries agreed “in principle” to a logistics exchange agreement to enable both militaries to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies. However, Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar and Ashton Carter made it clear that the agreement does not entail deployment of American troops on Indian soil and will be signed in a few weeks or months to come.

To take bilateral ties to a level never seen before, both sides agreed to set up a new Maritime Security Dialogue between officials from the respective defense and foreign affairs ministries. A “White Shipping” agreement is also proposed in the near future. This strategic partnership between India and the United States is defining the 21st century; we’ve already witnessed the remarkable changes in the relationship between the two nations. The countries also share a joint vision for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region with the Joint Strategic Vision released by President Obama and Narendra Modi in January.

Here are some key points that were discussed during Carter’s visit:

India is the world’s biggest arms importer and wants access to US technology, so it can be a key part of the PM’s Make in India initiative to boost domestic manufacturing.

The US is also hoping to sell F-16 or F-18 fighter jets to India that involve a major co-production deal with more than 100 fighter planes to be manufactured in India in collaboration with an Indian partner company.

Carter told NDTV that the recent sale of F16s to Pakistan was based on the assumption that these jets will be used to fight terrorism and does acknowledge India’s objection to this decision.

The main negotiations revolved around the transfer of technology for GenX aircraft carriers to be manufactured in India, including jet engines and helmet mounted displays for fighter pilots.

The US is also keen to work with India to counter China’s dominance in the South China Sea; however there have been no discussions about a joint Indo-US fleet for this matter, but the two countries will work closely together.

Modi-Obama – Strengthening the Strategic Bilateral Alliance of U.S and India

Nuclear Security SummitPrime Minister Narendra Modi’s third trip to the US for the Nuclear Security Summit has once again set ambitious goals for the two nations to deepen their bilateral ties. At the NSS dinner, Modi sat on the left side of President Obama in the East Room of the White House, and the duo exchanged some dialogues.

Modi began his speech at the Summit dinner by applauding President Obama’s sincere effort to address the issues of global security and nuclear terrorism. He said that terrorism is globally networked and nuclear security must remain an abiding national priority for every country. He also added that one country’s terrorist does not mean there’s no danger to another country; it is a collaborative effort of all nations to fight terrorism.

A glimpse into Modi’s itinerary includes a series of bilateral meetings with several leaders on the sideline including, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as President Obama, however, only one meeting has been officially announced, with Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key.

In the year 2015, USINPAC partnered with News X to host two Television Round Table Conferences in San Francisco. The main topics of discussion were Modi’s vision “Make in India” and “Is India ready to go digital?” The ‘Make in India’ roundtable discussions were directly linked to creating tomorrow’s smart cities in India, developing best practices around innovation and entrepreneurship, enhancing Indo-US trade relations and deepening the Indian sectors’ integration into the global supply chain. The second round table conference aimed to address the issues on creating a powerful digital infrastructure in India, making all businesses go ‘online’ and enhancing overall digital literacy in the country.

In addition to the above events, USINPAC also hosted a Congressional Briefing on US-India Nuclear Trade in June last year. Several leaders of the Indian American community supported USINPAC to facilitate the congressional approval of the US-India 123 Agreement in 2008, which set the stage for the two nations to join forces together for civilian nuclear energy trade; the event took place at Capitol Hill, which witnessed immense support for the historic passage of the 2006 Hyde Act.

The final series of NSS will adopt a five-point action plan as an objective to the outcomes of the NSS initiative, which will involve International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), UN, Interpol, Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and G-8 to reinforce global nuclear security against nuclear terrorism. India is an active member of three of four forums but is only a participating member of G-8, sometimes called G8+5. The “+5” refers to countries like Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

Indian-American Nandita Bakhshi appointed as the President and CEO at Bank of the West!

Nandita BakhshiIt is a matter of immense pride and joy among the Indian-American population when Nandita Bakhshi was appointed as the President and CEO of Bank of the West – a subsidiary of the French multinational bank, BNP Paribas, which is one of the largest banks in the world.

Bakhshi, 57 will replace her predecessor, Michael Shepherd, who will now take on the role of Chairman of a new holding company encompassing all U.S based BNP Paribas subsidiaries. She is said to officially take the reins as CEO and President on the 1st of June 2016, after a month of training, scheduled to start on April 1. Nandita Bakhshi’s rich experience and leadership roles in top US banks like Washington Mutual (now JP Morgan Chase), TD Bank, Bank of America, First Data Corp, Home Savings of America and Banc One Corp has won her this spectacular achievement. She currently serves on the board of the Consumers Bankers Association and is the recipient of a New England News “Woman of the Year” award in 2002.

Head of International Retail Banking, BNP Paribas, Mr. Stefaan Decraene said “We are extremely pleased to welcome Nandita Bakhshi to Bank of the West. Her extensive experience in product and distribution, coupled with her visionary thinking, relentless customer focus and values-driven philosophy will serve us well in taking Bank of the West to greater heights.” BNP Paribas is set out to revamp its US operational strategy to meet new regulations. Michael Shepherd is all praises for the new President and CEO, “I am very pleased that Nandita Bakhshi is joining Bank of the West. Her energy, innovative ideas and proven record of accomplishments are a great combination with our strong franchise and corporate culture,” he added.

Nandita Bakhshi graduated with a Bachelor’s in History from University of Kolkatta and holds a master’s degree in International Relations and Affairs from Jadavpur University, India. Her most recent leadership role was VP and Head of North America where she was responsible for driving innovation and improvising the digital channels to provide customers with a unified and seamless banking experience. On that note, USINPAC congratulates Nandita Bakhshi on her new endeavor and journey as CEO and President at Bank of the West. Cheers to that!