In a brief announcement posted on the US embassy website, “US Ambassador to India Nancy Jo Powell announced in a US Mission Town Hall meeting March 31 that she has submitted her resignation to President Obama and, as planned for some time, will retire to her home in Delaware before the end of May.” Her resignation comes in the wake of strained US- India relations and, is being seen as an attempt to make way for a reset of Indo-US relationships.
Because of weak UPA foreign
policy, the Washington and Delhi have not made any major headways
post-nuclear deal. And while Powell’s appointment earlier was a result of
stable US-India relationship, according to sources, two factors have
triggered the recent push out. The first reason being detention and
humiliation of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on American soil, and the other being her delay in engaging with Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narender Modi well in time. Where other detractors, Britain, Canada and European countries restored communication with Modi in good times, US engagement has been delayed as Powell was believed to be going by the hostility of the Congress-led UPA government.
Powell, who has had a long and distinguished career of 37-years serving as mission heads to Pakistan, India, Nepal and other countries, though had tried her best to rectify the delay by meeting the Gujarat Chief Minister last month. The effort was perceived as too little for the US to take timely call to improve its ties with Modi. Even though, the US State Department tried to underplay the issue by stating that “all the rumors and speculation are, quite frankly, totally false,” and Powell’s decision to leave “is in no way related to any tensions…,”, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in its communication to US lawmakers revealed the real story.
In a statement made just a day after Powell’s resignation, it stated that “Modi is widely considered to be one of the prime front-runners in the prime ministerial race as the candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party, and if he were to become the Prime Minister of India, he’d automatically be eligible for an A-1 (diplomatic) visa as the head of state, regardless of the purpose of his visit.” The possibility of Obama administration naming Indian-origin Rajiv Shah, who is a Gujarati, as a replacement of US ambassador Nancy Powell, is being seen as a diplomatic step to improve ties with India.
Shah, who is 41 years of age, was born in Ann Arbor Michigan to immigrant parents from India. He currently heads USAID, and is also one of the highest ranking Indian American in the Obama administration.
Shah’s appointment, if we go by the information revealed by sources, indicates that the United States has finally begun taking affirmative steps to engage with the soon to be
government in Delhi. n