DC Edit | After 2 years, nod for Garcetti

17 March 2023

Eric Garcetti will be the US Ambassador to India. His appointment was cleared by the Senate with a 52-42 vote, but not before the issue of his becoming the envoy to India became a symbol of many of the things wrong with politics in the deeply polarised United States of today.

The key post of US Ambassador to India had lain vacant since the previous envoy had resigned after the government changed in Washington with Democrat Joe Biden beating the Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 polls that became severely contentious thanks to the airing of conspiracy theories by the man who had to leave office.

True, the issue had something to do with the suitability of Mr Garcetti, a former mayor of Los Angeles, for the job since a series of charges had been levelled against him about how he may have ignored or mishandled misconduct and sexual harassment at his workplace in the City Hall wherein one of his top aides, a prominent member of the Los Angeles gay community, had been the central figure.

Mr Garcetti did convey forcefully his protestations of innocence on the grounds that he was unaware of the whispers among his staff and in the end the support of seven Republican Senators swung the vote in his favour this week even as three Democratic Senators, nursing doubts about their party and President’s candidate, cross-voted. In today’s ‘woke’ world that may be a given.

The fact that Mr Garcetti enjoyed quite a bit of bipartisan support when he was twice approved in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings does give him an edge as he prepares to come to New Delhi and present his credentials.

That the Ambassador’s post had to be kept vacant for two years at a time when India’s standing with the US has grown manifold in the strategic sphere as a Quad member, notwithstanding the change in the presidency from Mr Trump to Mr Biden, tells the tale of a divided America. But then the Republicans’ blockade of Mr Biden’s candidates confirmed by the Senate was an extended byplay of US politics.

India is convinced that a former district attorney’s son, who also studied Hindi in college, would be the ideal candidate to take forward the US-India relationship that is at a higher plane than at any time in the last few decades.


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