Rich verma

In this file photo, former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard ‘Rahul’ Verma (right) meets children enrolled at Sulabh School during a visit to Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi on Aug. 13, 2015. The Indian American currently serves as vice chairman of The Asia Group. (Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard ‘Rahul’ Verma, who served as U.S. Ambassador to India during the Obama administration, has joined the board of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, according to an announcement released by the organization Oct. 26.

Verma, the first Indian American ambassador to India, stepped down from his post in New Delhi Jan. 20 as incoming President Donald Trump ordered all politically-appointed ambassadors to leave their offices by Inauguration Day. He and his wife Pinky stayed on in India for a few months so that their children could finish out the school year (see India-West’s exit interview with Verma here).

Verma currently serves as vice chairman of The Asia Group, where he leads the firm’s growth in South Asia. He is also the Centennial Fellow at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and he co-chairs the Center for American Progress’ U.S.-India Task Force.

“On to new heights in US/India relations – forward together we go,” Verma tweeted Oct. 26, announcing his new role at USISPF.

In a press statement via the organization, Verma said: “While serving as ambassador to India, I saw first-hand the exciting work that U.S. companies are doing across India and in cooperation with domestic partners. The USISPF provides a critical platform to advance commercial ties, and I am delighted to join the board of this new leading organization.”

USISPF was formed from the departing leadership of the U.S.-India Business Council, which was established by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1975. After a public disagreement in July, USIBC leadership voted to split from the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber retaliated, saying the split was not valid, as it had established the organization, which has served a leadership role in promoting economic growth between India and the U.S.

Former USIBC chairman John Chambers announced the formation of USISPF Aug. 2. Indian American CEOs Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, and Ajay Banga of Mastercard already serve on the new organization’s board.

Former USIBC chairman Mukesh Aghi, who now serves as president of USISPF, commended Verma for joining the board.

“Rich Verma is one of the most profoundly influential individuals for U.S.-India relations, and we could not be more honored and excited to welcome him to the USISPF Board, a powerful group that will undoubtedly make serious strides in partnership and trade growth between the United States and India,” said Aghi in a press statement.

The USISPF has defined its mission as promoting trade between the two countries, along with job creation, support for start-ups, innovation, and education.

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