Eric Garcetti is the new US ambassador to India. Why was the crucial position lying vacant for 2 years?

DailyBiteMar 16, 2023 | 13:32

Eric Garcetti is the new US ambassador to India. Why was the crucial position lying vacant for 2 years?

President Joe Biden had nominated Eric Garcetti as the Ambassador to India in July 2021. (Photo: Getty Images)

A divided Senate in the US approved Eric Garcetti as the United States' new Ambassador to India on Wednesday (March 15). This comes after 26 months of keeping a high-profile diplomatic position vacant.

The Senate voted 52-42 to confirm Garcetti's appointment. United States has not had an Ambassador in New Delhi for over two years now.

Kenneth Juster, the last occupant of the ambassadorial residence of the US in New Delhi, stepped down in January 2021 after the change of government in America.


Why it took 2 years?

President Joe Biden had nominated Eric Garcetti as the Ambassador to India in July 2021. The former Los Angeles Mayor’s nomination was pending before the US Congress amid concerns by some lawmakers that Garcetti had not adequately handled allegations against a former senior adviser of sexual assault and harassment.

His nomination was not brought to the Senate floor for a vote during the last Congress because the ruling Democratic Party did not have enough support to get the close aide of Biden through, reported PTI.

President Biden renominated Garcetti to the same position in January this year, and now finally he has been named Ambassador to India.

Garcetti thrilled

Eric Garcetti said he is thrilled with the outcome. "It was a decisive and bipartisan decision to fill a critical post that has been vacant for far too long. Now the hard work begins," he said.

"I'm deeply grateful to President Biden and the White House for the confidence and support throughout this process, and to all Senators on both sides of the aisle – whether they voted for me or not – for their thoughtful consideration," ANI quoted Garcetti as saying.


Why filling the position was important

The vacancy in the ambassadorship had been causing a significant diplomatic gap for the administration at a time of rising global tensions, including China's increasingly assertive presence in the Pacific region and Russia's war with Ukraine.

“The relationship between India and the US is a strong one, and one of great strategic, economic, and cultural importance. Founded on shared values, supported by growing economic and trade ties, and strengthened by the Indian diaspora here in the US, this partnership continues to hold significant promise for the future,” Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of Senate India Caucus, said.

But not everyone is happy...


What was the case? 

The Senate declined to confirm the 52-year-old as the Ambassador to India during President Biden's first two years in office because several legislators were concerned that the then-Mayor had not handled charges of sexual assault and harassment against a former top assistant effectively.

Photo: Eric Gracetti/ANI

There were concerns about when and what the former Mayor knew about sexual harassment charges levelled against his friend and longtime close adviser, Rick Jacobs. According to the lawsuit, Jacobs repeatedly harassed one of the Garcetti's bodyguards, while the former Mayor overlooked or laughed it off.

Who is Eric Garcetti? 

  • Eric Garcetti was a well-acclaimed member of the Democratic Party until his image was tainted by the above-mentioned scandal. 
  • He served as the 42nd Mayor of Los Angeles from 2013 to 2022. He was the city's youngest Mayor in 100 years and the first Jewish person to hold the position.
  • Garcetti's website says he was raised in the San Fernando Valley and has a  BA and MA degrees from Columbia University. 
Last updated: March 16, 2023 | 13:50
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