A record number of 27 US Congressmen will visit India later this month, reflecting the increased efforts by American lawmakers for strengthening ties with New Delhi. The top lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties are visiting India in two separate delegations.
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Describing this as an important development, Navtej Sarna, Indian Ambassador to the US, said such visit is reflective of the efforts on the part of the US to “strengthen and build” on the bipartisan support that they have in the US Congress for India-US relations. Congressional records indicate that this is the largest ever travel of US lawmakers to India.
The largest delegation of 19 Congressmen, being organised by the prestigious Aspen Institute, would be in India from February 20 to 25 with stops in New Delhi and Hyderabad.
During the visit, the lawmakers are scheduled to have a wide range of meetings from top government officials, politicians, members of the think-tank bodies and non-governmental organisations.
Another bipartisan Congressional delegation (or Codel) of eight lawmakers, being led by Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of powerful House Judiciary Committee, would be in India from February 20 to 23, visiting New Delhi and Bangalore.
The delegation includes Congressman George Holding, Co-Chair of the India Caucus, Jason Smit and Dave Trott.
All four are from the Republican party.
The Democratic members to the delegations include Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressmen Hank Johnson, David Ciciline and Henry Cuellar.
The visit, Sarna said would let these lawmakers first hand see for themselves, the political vibrancy of India, the economic reforms that are happening, and also for them to identify potential areas of engagement.
“This is increasingly important as the new administration comes into,” he said.
“We are very fortunate that there are two delegations totaling 27 Congressmen are travelling to India this month, which is not a small figure,” he said.
Also a delegation of Congressional staffers who are critical in preparing the background information about India for their Congressmen are visiting India during the same time.
Republican members to the Aspen delegation include Charlie Dent, Jeff Fortenberry, Andy Harris, Dave McKinley, and David Valadao.
The Democratic party lawmakers travelling to India as part of the Aspen Institute delegation are Don Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Jim Cooper, Suzan DelBene, Anna Eshoo, Elizabeth Esty, John Garamendi, Dan Kildee, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Stephen Lynch, Kathleen Rice, Jan Schakowsky, Peter Welch.
As per LegiStorm – an unofficial site, which keeps track of foreign travel by lawmakers – India currently is not the popular destination for US lawmakers.
Israel is their top destination. As per Legistorm compilation, Israel appears to be the favorite destination for US lawmakers.
India has never figured in its list of top 10 countries frequently visited by US lawmakers.
As per an unofficial compilation, since 2000, US lawmakers have made 42 trips to India, which includes 22 by the Republican Party and 19 by those from the Democratic part.
US India Business Council (USIBC) is also planning to take about 100 lawmakers to India in the next two years.
“It is important that we convey a right story about India to the both to the House and the Senate. And the best way to convey that is for them to feel firsthand what is India all about – its culture, its politics, its food. And I think, when they come back convinced that India is an important ally, its value systems are the same, the democracy, it has a press, which is as vibrant in bit countries,” Mukesh Aghi, USIBC president had said last year.