Congressman mistakes U.S. officials for Indian diplomats

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July 27, 2014

WASHINGTON DC – A U.S. Congressman mistook two senior Indian-American administration officials for Indian diplomats during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, leading to a wave of criticism across social media and the blogosphere for what appeared to be a case of inadvertent racism.

July 27, 2014

WASHINGTON DC – A U.S. Congressman mistook two senior Indian-American administration officials for Indian diplomats during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, leading to a wave of criticism across social media and the blogosphere for what appeared to be a case of inadvertent racism.

Nisha Biswal, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

On multiple occasions during a hearing on ‘U.S.-India Relations Under the Modi Government,’ Tea Party-backed Florida Representative Curt Lawson addressed State Department Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets, Arun Kumar as if they were representatives of the Government of India.

The Republican Congressman said in the early part of his remarks to Ms. Desai and Mr. Kumar, “I'm familiar with your country; I love your country… Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I'm willing and enthusiastic about doing so.”

He went on to say, “Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I'd like our capital to be welcome there,” Mr. Lawson said, adding, “I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”

After an awkward, some would say cringe-inducing, pause, Ms. Biswal answered, “I think your question is to the Indian government… We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.”

The hearing organized by the House’s Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific was the first hearing of Mr. Lawson, a ‘freshman’ member of the House of Representatives.

It comes days after a similar hearing at the U.S. Senate, during which Ms. Biswal spoke of “frustration,” surrounding the slow progress on the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement.

Yet ties with India have increasingly occupied the spotlight in recent months as anticipation grows before the arrival of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington in September.


Courtesy: PTI