US President Joe Biden has nominated Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles, to be the US Ambassador to India. Who is Garcetti and what are his thoughts about India?
Mayor Garcetti , nominated for the position of Ambassador to India, has told a Senate committee that human rights, including in the context of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), will be a “core” part of his work as Ambassador.
Appearing earlier this week for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Garcetti, a former board member of Human Rights Watch, said that he would bring up human rights and discrimination such as via the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as a “core” piece of his engagement , rather than as an obligation. He was speaking in response to a question from one of the Committee members on human rights and also specifically the CAA, as being discriminatory against Muslims.
“It’s a two way street on these, but I intend to engage directly with civil society,” Garcetti said when asked how he would balance the need to work with India as a strategic partner with advancing human rights, adding, “There are groups that are actively fighting for human rights of people on the ground in India that will get direct engagement from me.”
Speaking to reporters, Garcetti said that the United States cannot see “climate goals” without India hitting its own.
During a hearing, Garcetti said that he will push for “diversification” of India’s weapons systems.
“If that diversification doesn’t occur, we have to protect our data and our systems,” he said, adding that the growing defence trade between India and US has been one of the major successful stages of the bilateral ties.
Garcetti, who has led the city of Los Angeles during a period of booming development, a worsening homelessness crisis and a devastating pandemic, was, in July, announced as President Biden’s nominee to become ambassador to India.
Garcetti’s nomination had also signalled that President Biden was standing by him amid some high-profile controversies that have surrounded the mayor’s office over the past year. Garcetti and his team have faced allegations, which they have denied, that they failed to address allegations of sexual harassment by an aide in his office.
The mayor has visited India several times. In college, he spent a year studying Hindi and Urdu.
“It’s the largest democracy in the world, soon to be the most populous country in the world, one of the top handful of superpowers in the world,” Garcetti had said following his nomination.