Asserting that India has a critical role in South Asia, Indian-American Congressman Dr Ami Bera has said the Indo-US strategic partnership is vital to promote regional stability.
"Economically, we clearly see the opportunities, and a robust trading relationship with India is vital as we start to accelerate our economic recovery and start to create jobs here at home," Bera said during a Congressional hearing on South Asia.
"In fact, in my home state of California, exports to India are worth over USD 3.7 billion annually. It is a vital relationship," Bera said.
In the first few months of being elected to the US House of Representatives, Bera on Wednesday played the role of Ranking Member of the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee during its hearing in "The Rebalance to Asia: Why South Asia Matters".
The Democrat from California is the only Indian-American in the current Congress and only the third ever Indian- American lawmaker.
In his statement, Bera said that India is emerging as a key strategic partner of the US.
"We are establishing deeper relationships with other nations throughout Asia using India as a strategic partner. Our own interests in promoting regional stability make it imperative that the US participate along with India in these regional organisations as well," he said.
As the US starts drawing down its troops from Afghanistan, he said the two countries share a common interest in promoting regional peace and international security.
"India also has a critical role in holding and maintaining some of the gains we've made, and helping anchor the stability in South Asia. The US is depending on India to serve as a regional economic anchor and a provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region," Bera said.
During the hearing, Bera also pushed for greater co-operation between India and the US in the education sector.
"As we think about the Indian-American community, we've prospered, and we've done very well here in the US, and have continued to give back to the US economically, academically and so forth," he said.
Responding to Bera, Sanjay Puri, founder and CEO, Alliance for US India Business, said education is very important.
"We look at those students who come from India as a big source of revenue, because they pay full fare, but they also contribute a lot in terms of technology," Puri said.
"You've got to understand that in India, there's a huge education market. Every Indian parent will sell their land or other things to educate their children. It's a USD 50 billion market, but also builds very, very strong bonds," Puri said.
"The benefits are to those companies, benefits are to the US, benefits are to India and to the educational institutions. So I think that's a win-win situation, and we should start looking at STEM teachers here too, because there's a crying need, some of the math and science experts that exist in India, it's incredible," Puri said.
Sadanand Dhume of American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based eminent American think-tank, said there are practical ways in which the Indian-American community, which is about three million strong, can contribute.
"It's a wealthy and educated community. It can give back in terms of business ties, Indian-American owned companies investing. I in fact think that the more important thing is the contribution of this community to India in terms of ideas," Dhume said.
"This is a community that has prospered in the US, precisely because the US has got certain really big things right in terms of its ideas of pluralism, in terms of its ideas of tolerance, in terms of its ideas of economic freedom," he said.
"The key role for the Indian-American community in terms of giving back to India is to take the principles that have made the US prosperous and strong and find ways to promote those ideas in an Indian context," he added.