Hyderabad: Hyderabad is an emerging hub for US aerospace manufacturing units including those with ties to the US military.
Speaking exclusively to Deccan Chronicle on the growing defence trade, US Consulate General Katherine Hadda said, “The part that is really growing here (Hyderabad) is our defence relationship. We (US consulate) are helping to amplify it here. When I first arrived in Hyderabad I found that we have a lot to do in defence on our part. With regard to defence trade, we have Boeing, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin here in Hyderabad producing components for aircraft, some of them have a military application, not warfare but transport applications.
She said that while the wings of the F-16 aircraft are all going to be produced by Lockheed here, and “worldwide, every wing of the F-16 planes is going to be produced in Hyderabad, already we have a military transport plant on the city’s outskirts for Lockheed producing the tail sections, they are now moving to all parts, this is a tremendously growing area.”
Since December, the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam has hosted two US Navy ships for transporting marines. Hyderabad is to hold another International conference with the focus on US-India defence trade in November.
She is the most popular foreign diplomat in Hyderabad, going by her social interactions.
Her time at the US consul general in Hyderabad has been impactful. The officer is a driving force for women’s empowerment, and education for the underprivileged. Her love for Indian attire, especially handloom saris, is evident as she wears them frequently. She never leaves a chance to share her thoughts about the city in the most positive way. One of her recent comments on twitter, referring to a signboard that read, “Peacocks crossing, Please drive slowly”, was “How can one not love a city that has signs like this?”
Ms Katherine Hadda has been consul general for two years and eight months. In that time, she has covered every area that deserves consulate grant. She is responsible for Project Hunar’s first job-skilling centre for underserved women, the Goals for Girls programme for historically underserved communities, and much more.
The consul general has attended close to 250 events, both social and private, and never misses an opportunity to encourage, congratulate or wish Hyderabadis.
Since December, the Eastern Naval Command in Vishakapatnam has hosted two US Navy ships for transporting marines. “The two Navy ships held a cycle of exercises andinteractions with the Eastern Indian navy command. We invited the local community which included young school girls who are learning English to the US consulate. The school girls interacted with the US navy female staff and it was so inspiring that the girls showed interest in joining the Indian Navy,” added Ms Hadda.
Originally from New York City, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Smith College, and her Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.
She assumed the post of U.S. Consul General in Hyderabad on October 2016. Ms Hadda is a career diplomat, member of the Senior Foreign Service, with 30 years of experience in policy positions in Asia, Europe, and Washington, DC. She has served as Minister Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. She trained State Department and other U.S. government officials in economic and regional studies as well as preparing them for assignments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other conflict areas.
With her time in the city ending in July, Deccan Chronicle speaks to her about her posting here and other matters:
It’s been 2.8 years since you assumed charge as the Consul General and you have explored the city to its maximum. What are your thoughts on Hyderabad?
I moved from Rome to Hyderabad. Rome is very historic and old and Hyderabad too is rich in heritage, but what is striking is the new city (referring to Cyberabad). When I drive around in my car, I get this vibrant feeling looking at the new constructions, brands, hotels, giving a message that an optimistic future is building here. The city houses 1,030 American companies, creating a huge workforce. The metro rail is the game-changer. I remember, ahead of the Global Entrepren-eur’s Summit (GES) 2017, when my colleagues back in Washington DC were concerned about whether Hyderabad can co-host such a high-level conference, given that many didn’t know the city. I told them that I witnessed a wedding at the same venue that was bigger than the summit (laughs). International connections were made, business deals clicked and the success of GES mirrored the city’s growth.
When it comes to the services of the US Consulate, which has been the most impactful programme or development during your tenure?
It is like differentiating between my children (chuckles). But I can break them down into three. We (US Consulate) are engaged in promoting economic prosperity between the two countries, besides empowering women. A number of boot camps for wannabe entrepreneurs are held. Recently we launched 'Hunar', a pilot project on employment -skill training for the underserved women, by tying up with four US companies. We have the first graduation of the first 15 women by July end. Secondly, through the Consulate grant, we work with TS, AP police in curbing trafficking, primarily child trafficking. New training manuals were introduced where the victims who were rescued were used to prosecute the actual perpetrators. It is a different approach that enforcement agencies back in the US practice. This module is being amplified in India. Recently, the Indian Customs department approached the Consulate to share the training module so that their inspectors can identify traffickers flying in and out. We also work with film studios for public service announcements on trafficking. We have the Community College Initiative Program (CCIP) for children from underprivileged backgrounds to study in the United States free of cost. The Defence relationships are the next big thing. Hyderabad is a key hub for US defence manufacturing units. We have Boeing and Lockheed Martin here in Hyderabad producing components for aircraft. Some of them have a military application, not warfare but transport applications. Besides, the wings of the F-16s are all going to be produced by Lockheed in Hyderabad. We also had the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group share training with the Indian National Security Guard.
Your love for sarees is noticeable.
My real love is for handlooms. I am taking all my sarees to the US. We had a special class on how to drape a saree. For me, handloom is a beautiful hereditary art. Some people here take it for granted, but handlooms are a treasure. We have been to Pochampally village thrice, also to Machilipatnam to see the Kalamkari sarees printed. I try to mix handloom with western and Italian clothing to show that it is very modern and chic. It has a lot of potential though the fabric is undermined.
You played an important role in monitoring the construction of a new building for the consulate, but unfortunately, you won't be here when it becomes functional. How will the new building make a difference in consulate services?
It will be open for operations in 2021. The new consulate at Nanakramguda spreads across 12.5 acres of land is being built to standards on par with those in America; it uses Deccan boulders to give it an Indian touch.
The building will have its own plant nursery, since we believe in supporting the government's flagship programme haritha haram, and it will have a rainwater harvesting plant. The giant space, which is environmentally friendly, will allow more public events and house guests at different levels. The number of windows for visa interviews will be increased. The building is well designed to handle the flow of people. Sad that I won't be there to see it open for operations but I hope to come back. All services shall remain as usual.
Your favourite Hyderabad dish and place?
I have to say biryani, but there is a lot more. We don't eat meat but seafood. It is delightful to see many varieties for a vegetarian. Yes, I love spicy Indian food. It was a delight when I learnt to make Patchi-pulusu and Pudina Karampodi.
I make it a point to visit Ramayya Mess for fantastic traditional Andhra vegetarian food when I visit AP. I enjoyed the mango season in India; I got to eat delicious varieties. Golconda is beautiful. I love its openness and the view. The Consulate has funding for the preservation of historic sites like the Mahalakka Bai tomb in Moula Ali and also funded the excavation and preservation of the Qutb Shahi tombs. I love Charminar, the energy around it, not to forget the MJ Market. Always enjoyed gazing at the boulders along the highway between Hyderabad and Vijayawada. I am looking forward to seeing the Qutb Shahi tombs after the renovation.