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N-deal: Indian Americans do their bit
June 27, 2006 12:39 IST
While the Bush administration is busy trying to get the Congress to clear the nuclear deal with India, Indian American interest groups are doing their bit by lobbying lawmakers across the US.
Stressing the importance of lobbying groups in the present context, Sanjay Puri, chairman of USINPAC, a group representing the Indian American community on Capitol Hill, says several lawmakers have confided in him that the nuclear deal looked dead a few months ago until active lobbying by groups like his brought it back on track.
"Since both Congress and the House of Representatives have to come together to pass a bill, we lobby both sides to try and convince them," he said in a video conference from Washington, DC with journalists in New Delhi on Monday.
"We are the largest contributor (among) ethnic groups in the US. So our voice in Capitol Hill is very huge," said Supriya Christopher, executive director of USINPAC.
"We don't work with the Indian government, the issues we pursue come from our member bases. Our interests are strategic and economic. And we have been very successful in our lobbying," Puri said.
The growing economic and political clout of Indian Americans coupled with the American corporate sector's growing interest in India creates a powerful lobby, said Puri.
Also, American companies are increasingly favouring cooperation with India as they have increasing stakes in the country.
Puri cited companies like GE, who he said help a lot when they say a particular deal with India is good for the US.
"We (Indian Americans) are the bridge between the two countries, corporates are the catalysts," added Supriya.
"For us, our work is advocacy, to create awareness. For instance, a lawmaker in far-away Michigan does not have the nuclear deal on top of his priorities. So we inform him and his staff... we make calls, make white papers... it is about getting your point on the table," Puri said.