The United States senate today confirmed by a voice vote the nomination of Richard Rahul Verma as the next US ambassador to India.
Verma, 46, is the first Indian-American to be the US ambassador to India and is expected to be sworn in shortly.
He will arrive in New Delhi ahead of the India visit of US President Barack Obama who will be the chief guest on this year’s Republic Day.
The very fact that Verma was confirmed by a voice vote in a bitterly divided senate with more than fifty ambassadorial nominations pending, signify the bi-partisan support to India-US relationship.
Verma, who quietly played an important role in the Congressional passage of Civil Nuclear Deal while being at the Hill, had advocated for strong Indo-US ties when in the administration and recently had started a “India 2020” project at a top American-think tank Center for American Progress.
Verma served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.
He is currently a senior counsellor at Steptoe & Johnson law firm and the Albright Stonebridge Group, a business advisory company, led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Verma will replace Nancy Powell, who resigned in March after a damaging row over the treatment of a junior Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, who was accused by authorities in New York of visa fraud and underpaying a domestic worker.
The US Embassy in New Delhi is currently headed by a charge d’affaires, Kathleen Stephens.
Verma’s association with Obama goes back to 2008, when he worked on presidential debate preparations for the then Illinois senator.
His parents came to the US in the early 1960s having lived through India’s fight for independence from Britain and partition.