‘Hillary will elevate ties with India’

John Podesta, Chairman of Ms.Clinton's campaign committee said a future Democratic administration under Ms. Clinton will have a significant presence of Indian Americans.

April 25, 2016 08:53 am | Updated October 18, 2016 03:46 pm IST - Washington

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

If elected president of the United States, Hillary Clinton will take relations with India to a new level and better economic and strategic ties with India will anchor the U.S in the region, her campaign chief has said. John Podesta, Chairman of Ms.Clinton's campaign committee said a future Democratic administration under Ms. Clinton will have a significant presence of Indian Americans.

Mr. Podesta, who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and as advisor to President Barack Obama, said successive presidents have been in agreement on strengthening relations with India, and Ms. Clinton would “follow in that tradition.”

The campaign chief was speaking to journalists after the inauguration of Indian-Americans for Hillary Clinton (IAHC) a platform that seeks to mobilise the community in swing states where the contest will be close in November. “Indian Americans can make a real difference in such states,” said Rajan Natarajan, a leader of the initiative. The Tamil Nadu born tech-entrepreneur is an active player in the Maryland Democratic party and was Maryland’s deputy secretary of state earlier.

Mr. Podesta said Ms. Clinton has built strong relations with India when she was the first lady and later as secretary of state. “She helped lay the foundation for the relationship that I had the opportunity to build on when I was working for President Obama, to deepen the relationship with Prime Minister Modi, to get an outcome at the Paris negotiations, and the ambitious clean energy agenda India has set,” Mr Podesta said.

Mr. Podesta, who is expected to wield significant influence in a future Clinton administration said, on development challenges and in tackling climate change, Ms. Clinton has developed strong ties with Indian friends. “I am sure she will take it forward as president, as President Obama has done. It all began with President Clinton, who transformed the relationship with a historic visit,” he said.

 IAHC’s first meeting brought together prominent Indian-Americans around the national capital on Sunday. “I am so thrilled by the fact that the Indian-Americans are getting involved in this election so closely, and IAHC is being launched,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Centre for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning think-tank in Washington D.C.  Ms. Tanden, a close confidante of Ms. Clinton, is expected to be part of her future team. Mr. Podesta said as much. “I can think of at least one person right now, who will be part of a future Democratic administration,” he said, referring to Ms, Tanden.

“In all positions, that she (Ms. Clinton) has held so far, she had Indian Americans around her. She takes the best and the brightest from everywhere. She will recognise the talent among the Indian American community,” Ms. Tanden added.

“This is to make sure that Indian Americans are active participants in the American political process and also to ensure that they support Hillary Clinton, who believes in diversity, democracy and equality. These are the values that bind Indian Americans with her. This initiative is also to ensure that when she becomes the president our voices are heard,” said Frank Islam, and Indian American entrepreneur who raised nearly $ 400000 for Ms Clinton’s primary campaign.  

‘Trump showed disrespect’

Mr. Podesto said Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign was dangerous for the country, referring to him mocking Indian call centre workers at an election rally earlier this week. “I think it was typical of the disrespect he has shown for groups across the spectrum. He has run a campaign of hatred and bigotry, and that is dangerous,” he said and added that Ms. Clinton believed that immigration was good for the U.S and its economy. Asked how Ms. Clinton’s policies would impact immigration from India based on family ties and under H-1B visas, the campaign chief said she supports both.

“She focuses on family unification and she believes that immigration is good for this country, by attracting talented people who build businesses and expand the economy,” he said. “Each successive wave of migration has helped this country.”

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