After 26 months, the US finally confirms Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India

WASHINGTON: Finally, Washington confirmed former Los Angeles mayor and Democratic Party operative Eric Garcetti as US ambassador to India. He should arrive at Roosevelt House, the US envoy’s residence in New Delhi, within a few days, after the Senate voted 52 to 42 to confirm him.
It was also time, because the United States had not had an ambassador in New Delhi for over two years, since Kenneth Juster packed his bags on January 20, 2021, when there was a changing of the guard in the White House. It is the longest stretch New Delhi has been without a US ambassador.

When Thomas Pickering was transferred to Moscow in March 1993 after serving as US ambassador to New Delhi for just under a year, it took the Clinton White House 14 months to appoint the next envoy, Frank Wisner. The delay was seen in some quarters as contempt – if not slight – towards a country that was at that time a relatively light and distant partner to the United States in a unipolar world.
Kenneth Brill, a distinguished US Foreign Service official, served as a charge d’affaires between March 1993 and August 1994. However, he was seen as a snub to a coveted station that saw some of the top diplomats Americans. In July 1963, two of America’s best literally met on the doorstep: Chester Bowles on his way to New Delhi just as John Kenneth Galbraith was leaving.

So what accounts for this two-year hiatus in New Delhi that was filled by five charge d’affaires while an ambassadorial candidate waited in the wings for confirmation in Washington? Well, the only obvious answer is Washington’s famous gridlock resulting from deeply partisan politics.
Garcetti was originally nominated by President Biden as the United States ambassador to India on July 9, 2021. It took the Senate 20 months to confirm him – a tortured process that was stalled by allegations that he ignored sexual assault and harassment allegations against a former senior adjutant.
It has become such a mud fight that the initial nomination expired and President Biden had to renominate him earlier this year when the new Congress met after the midterm elections, saying he had “confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he will be an excellent representative in India at a critical juncture and calls on the Senate to confirm him swiftly.”
Eventually the Senate voted bipartisan which saw three Democratic lawmakers vote against him and seven Republicans vote for him. Opponents included former India advocate Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, who traveled across India as a young backpacker during the emergency, and Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii.
“I am thrilled with today’s outcome, which was a decisive, bipartisan decision to fill a critical post that has been vacant for far too long. Now the hard work begins,” Garcetti said in a statement, shedding light on the controversial trial.
“I am deeply grateful to President Biden and the White House for their trust and support during this process, and to all Senators on both sides of the aisle – whether they voted for me or not – for their thoughtful consideration,” he added. .
Indian activists and Indian-Americans were also relieved and excited to finally have a point person in New Delhi. “Eric Garcetti is an excellent choice to serve as US Ambassador… India’s importance to the global economy and national security will only continue to grow in the coming years. Having a steady hand to guide our relationship with India is vital,” said Yogi Chugh, a California entrepreneur who hosted Garcetti for a dinner at his home last year with Ro Khanna, the Indian-American congressman from Silicon Valley.
“Having led Los Angeles, one of the most vibrant cities in the world, Mayor Garcetti understands that working with all stakeholders will be essential to moving forward the most significant relationship of the 21st century, the US-India partnership. Eric has a deep understanding and affection towards India and the Indian people, and I have no doubt that he will be on the run when he lands in Delhi,” Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO, US-India Strategic Partnership. Forum said, adding: “Eric brings the humility of a great leader who is constantly striving to improve and make a difference. He’s also a big guy!”


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