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Garcetti dismisses concerns about democracy in India

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Washington, May 10: US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti has dismissed concerns raised by certain quarters about democracy in India and said he “100 per cent” believes that Washington can trust its relationship with New Delhi which is going to be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century.
Speaking at an event organised by the Council on Foreign Relations, a prominent think-tank, Garcetti said he was confident that “10 years from now India is going to be a vibrant democracy as it is today in terms of free and fair elections”.
“Again there’s things that probably are worse and there’s things that are better. They have a law, you can’t go more than two kilometers to vote. So there’ll be one guy who lives in the mountains as a monk (at) someplace. They will walk for two days to bring the voting machine, execute the vote,” he said, responding to a question expressing concerns over the status of democracy in India.
He said that during election times in India, there are people who check trucks to make sure that nobody has cash going around.
“There’s probably walk-in money, as they call it in some cities here in the United States, Philadelphia, that’s like a tradition where cash kind of gets you votes and things like that,” he said.
Garcetti said he has been impressed with certain things Indians do that are better than Americans.
He, however, added there are things that “we keep our eyes on. And I just disagree that we don’t speak out about them”. “But in my heart, 100 per cent, I believe, not only will this still continue to be one of the world’s most vibrant democracies,” Garcetti said. “I 100 per cent believe we can trust this relationship. It’s going to be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century, the US and India together,” Garcetti, known to be close to US President Joe Biden, said. Garcetti also praised how the power is distributed between the states and the central government in India. “We put them out. It’s not the only thing. I mean, some people want us to only say that. But this is too important a relationship to spend all day long only saying that over and over. You’re not going to get anything else done. It’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy that they will not be close to us. Whereas where we find the common ground, which I think is really human to human, very deep,” he said. “… If you don’t know state governments in India, which are as powerful as the centre and are run by opposition parties, and there’s plenty of criticisms you can make, too, about other parties that have been in power,” he said.
“If you look at history in India, there’s not been some golden era where everybody’s rights have been respected,” Garcetti said.
Pannun case: US satisfied with India’s accountability
The US is “satisfied” with the accountability it has demanded from India on the allegations that its officials were involved in an alleged plot to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil, US Ambassador to India Eric
Garcetti has said. In November last year, US federal prosecutors charged Indian national Nikhil Gupta with working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Pannun, wanted in India on terror charges, holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada. He has been designated as a terrorist by the Union Home Ministry under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
“When I was referring to a relationship that might have bumps along the road, this would be potentially the first big fight in a relationship,” Garcetti said in response to a question at an event organised on Thursday by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank. (AP)

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