India welcomes confirmation of Eric Garcetti as U.S. Ambassador

India has welcomed the confirmation of U.S. Ambassador-designate Eric Garcetti by the Senate saying that New Delhi looks forward to work with him to advance bilateral relations. The statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) came as past comments from Mr. Garcetti on the human rights record of India became viral over the past week which drew criticism from multiple stakeholders, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

“Let me emphasise, we welcome the confirmation of Mr. Eric Garcetti as the Ambassador to India. We look forward to working with him to take forward our multifaceted bilateral relation,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in response to a question from The Hindu. Mr. Garcetti’s confirmation had been stuck at the legislative level in the U.S. where he faced multiple hurdles, including allegations of sexual harassment by his chief of staff, Rick Jacobs.

Mr. Garcetti’s confirmation was expected since July 2021 when President Joe Biden nominated him to be the U.S. Ambassador to India. Further revelations on Mr. Garcetti came in a right-wing news portal Daily Caller that alleged he had close links with Chinese officials. At the same time, a 2021 video showing him speak on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) also went viral.

‘Poor understanding’

In the video, Mr. Garcetti is shown arguing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he will take up human rights issues in India during his tenure and said, “I have fought for human rights on four different continents and will be a core part of what I will pursue with my Indian counterpart.”

Responding to the video, VHP’s national spokesperson Vinod Bansal told The Hindu that Mr. Garcetti’s remarks on the CAA and the human rights scenario in India showed “his lack of understanding” of the Indian scenario.

“We welcome his confirmation but his comments on the largest democracy in the world shows that he is not fully informed about the Indian scenario. It will be better if he forms a better understanding of the issues relevant to India before taking up the post of the U.S. Ambassador here,” said Mr. Bansal alleging that there had been a spike in “anti-India “propaganda” in the U.S.

Mr. Bagchi, however, clarified that Mr. Garcetti’s comments on CAA did not originate recently and said, “Our position on many of these issues are well known.”

Nuclear submarines

In the weekly interaction with the media, Mr. Bagchi said that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during his recent visit had briefed the Indian side about Canberra acquiring nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) in the interim under AUKUS (Australia-U.K.-U.S.) security group.

Initially, Australia will receive three second-hand SSNs in the next decade and eventually, between early 2040s to late 2050s, Australia will get five new SSNs to be designed and developed by the U.K.

The emergence of SSNs within AUKUS has indicated growing nuclearisation of the Indo-Pacific. Mr. Bagchi’s comments indicated that India was on board the developments within AUKUS.