NEW YORK — Although there is an ideological chasm between President Donald Trump and the Democratic Party, India-U.S. relations "transcends partisanship" and the party supports his initiatives to strengthen it further, according to Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.
"The more he can do that the better because it will help each of our economies and will enhance our security and also bring our two peoples together even closer between the world's oldest and largest democracies," the Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives said in interview with IANS.
Trump has said that a "critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expanded on it saying last month the administration wanted to "deepen ties with India" to make it one of the anchors of a democratic world order.
"It is good that the president is continuing the strengthening of the U.S.-India relationship," Krishnamoorthi said. "I am glad that the relationship is now something that both parties support."
But he said that it should not be a transactional relationship but be built on a foundation that endures.
"What I am always concerned about is any kind of relation, any kind of interaction that is transactional in nature," he said. "We need to make it about relationship growing."
For this, "it is very, very important that for instance that we enhance our economic relationship, that we continue to promote Indian investment in the U.S.," he said, "just as the Indians will promote American investment in India.”
Krishnamoorthi made a pitch for investments in his Illinois constituency located in suburbs around Chicago, saying he hopes Indian businesses would come there.
The Indian auto manufacturer, Mahindra Group, has set up a factory and technical center with a $230 million investment in neighboring Michighan state across the lake from Illinois.
On the security front, Washington and New Delhi "have to be close partners in fighting terrorism, but also in making sure that we can bring some democratic norms and, kind of making sure everyone observes the rules of the road in our global relationships, the way we conduct our global business,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Krishnamoorthi, who was born in Delhi and came to the U.S. as a baby with his parents, is a mechanical engineer and a lawyer by training. He headed companies that develop technologies for defense and renewable energy sectors before his election last year. There are three other Indian Americans, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Ami Bera – all Democrats – in the House of Representatives and a senator of Indian descent.
"I affectionately call them the 'Samosa Caucus'," Krishnamoorthi said. "We try to help each other out on our bills of interest."
"We have taken a stand against hate crimes directed against Indian Americans whether they are Sikhs, Hindus or Muslims or Jains. We work together on those issues," he said.
The other representatives supported a bill he has introduced to set up a commission to study the rise in hate crimes and recommend ways to combat them, Krishnamoorthi said.
While there had been just one Indian American congressman, Bera, in the elections last year their numbers shot up to five in a sign of the community's increased political involvement.
"That trend will continue to proceed apace," Krishnamoorthi said. "I think that what is really important is that at the grassroots level Indian Americans really engage in the political process. That means voting and volunteering and assisting candidates who support their agenda that is friendly to their values."