India is known the world over for blending the rich traditions of the past with all of the opportunities for an innovative future. As the world’s largest democracy, India is an important ally of the United States on many of the important issues we face. This friendship took center stage as President Obama joined Prime Minister Modi for Republic Day celebrations this past month—the first trip of its kind by a U.S. President.
While the pageantry of Republic Day, and the important symbolism of the trip was of great note, perhaps more important was the joint progress made on our shared agenda. Serving as the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I know firsthand the importance of our reenergized partnership with India, and am excited by the prospect of our current and future progress.
India has been our partner in sustainable energy cooperation since the 1950s. In 2009, the United States and India created the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) in order to work jointly towards more secure and clean energy sources. During the President’s trip the United States and India agreed to renewal and expansion of this partnership. This bold step by both parties will expand research of smart grids, grid storage technology, and advanced biofuels.
As leading democracies, the United States and India have the important role of advancing international cooperation on climate change. We cannot wait any longer to address this critical issue that affects all aspects of our economies. By accelerating clean energy financing and prioritizing air quality cooperation, we will protect our environment and our economy.
The success of this trip would not have been possible without the strong support of the Indian-American community—an important note recognized by both the President and the Prime Minister. Perhaps more than any diaspora, Indian-Americans follow the affairs of their homeland diligently. I am pleased that both nations will resume talks to promote a bilateral investment treaty, which would allow each side to make more investments in each country. This will surely be another place where the diaspora community will play a critical role in advancing a strong U.S-India dialogue.
When I founded the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans years ago, I knew that there was room to build upon the U.S.-Indian relationship. I believe that it is our shared values that bring us together and that must lead us to the future. While the President’s trip certainly advances many of our policy goals, it more importantly marks a new era for U.S.-India relations.
Skeptics from each nation urged their leaders not to come to the table, but the President and Prime Minister knew that this was a crucial time for both countries. President Obama and Prime Minister Modi understand that both of our countries will do best if we work together—we have no other choice. I am certain that this trip will have the impact of revitalizing a strong, mutually beneficial partnership between the United States and India for years to come.
Frank Pallone is the United States Representative for New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District. He is also a founding member of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans.