‘A minus’ troubles
Indian-origin US envoy Richard Verma expressed gratitude to the values of education and service that his India-educated parents instilled in him, including once of his parents spending days reviewing why their son got an ‘A minus’ in his report card when the other five were As. Addressing the convocation at Ashoka University here, Mr Verma said, “For me, I am extremely humbled that my path has led me from a modest upbringing in Western Pennsylvania to become ambassador -- the first Indian American ambassador -- to the country my parents called home.”
Mr Verma said his father graduated from DAV College in Jalandhar, Punjab, over 60 years ago, before migrating to the US to teach. “My mother was also a teacher. I am certain I don’t need to tell you all what it’s like to be the son of two Indian teachers! I remember coming home in the 9th grade with a report card of five As and one A minus. Yes, you guessed it, we spent the next day’s reviewing what happened, and what could have caused this A minus!” he said.
“But as an adult, I am ever grateful for the important values of education and service that they instilled in me. I also know that from the alley-way of the Basti-Sheikh neighbourhood of Jalandhar where my family grew up to the road leading to the US embassy is not a likely path or one easily traversed - not without a lot of help, a lot of friends, teachers and mentors and a dedicated family. I am also very mindful of the extra obligation we all have to help others who today may be living down that path or alleyway like we did, but who also dream of what the future holds. So, leadership is also not forgetting where you come from and not forgetting about those who may have been left behind,” Mr Verma said.
Touching on India-US ties, Mr Verma said that the relations were “soaring forward” following two very successful meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama. He said both sides were working together on over 80 initiatives and addressing all sorts of challenges. Mr Verma said that both sides were working on challenges like exploring the solar system and improving the quality of the air.
Mr Verma also said, “I think it is fair to say that progress on our agenda may in many cases define and enrich the lives of generations to come. The bilateral relationship is about more than just programmes and initiatives. It is about looking closely at the full expanse of our people-to-people, strategic, and economic ties and asking essentially, ‘where do we go next?’.”
“It is a relationship where, as PM Modi has recognised, the US and India should not be looking only at what we can do together, but also reaching further and aiming higher, looking at what we can do for the world. And as we define what those next steps can be, we are finding many areas where it is possible for both of our countries to become stronger together,” Mr Verma said, according to a text of his speech provided by the US embassy.