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Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum Event

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, everyone.  Good evening.  It’s wonderful to be with all of you this evening.  Now, I have to say, Mukesh, it’s a little bit intimidating to be in the same sentence with Thomas Jefferson, but I appreciate it.  (Laughter.)  And I also have to say as a onetime aspiring musician, I especially appreciate being able to take the stage here at the Kennedy Center.  It’s probably the closest I’ll get to actually performing on it.  (Applause.)

Mr. Prime Minister, this has truly been a historic visit to Washington.  (Applause.)

To Dr. Mukesh Aghi, to the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, to the members of the Indian American diaspora – and we’ve noticed that you’re here this week – (laughter) – to all the friends of the U.S.-India cooperation here with us: thank you.  Thank you for your work to bring our countries and our citizens ever closer together.  (Applause.)  You are – you are, as Prime Minister Modi put it, “the real engine” powering our relationship.

Over the last several decades, we have seen a transformation in U.S.-India ties – driven by private sector and civil society leaders like you, by governments of different parties in both of our countries.  Today, guided by the vision of President Biden and Prime Minister Modi, the U.S.-India partnership is closer, it’s broader, it is more dynamic than it has ever been.  And as President Biden said yesterday, we are “two great nations, two great friends, two great powers that can define the course of the 21st century.”  (Applause.)

The many deals, the agreements, the exchanges that are coming out of this state visit illustrate just how comprehensive our partnership has become.  It reaches quite literally from the seas to the stars, from promoting public health to bolstering peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.  And at its heart is our economic engagement – between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, and others – that is expanding opportunity for both of our countries, and beyond.

Together, we are facilitating greater trade and investment, building on what is already a record $191 billion in bilateral trade.  We see the mutual benefits of this relationship when Air India purchases 200 Boeing aircraft – supporting over a million American jobs in 44 states.  (Applause.)  And we see it when Boeing, in turn, commits to training Indian pilots and building regional hubs in India.

This partnership is also defined increasingly by efforts to advance technology and innovation – 5G, quantum, artificial intelligence – and to ensure that that they’re shaped by our values.  Building on the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies that was launched in January, we announced an “Innovation Handshake” yesterday to further connect our startup ecosystems.  And the landmark agreement to jointly manufacture advanced GE fighter jet engines in India will facilitate greater tech transfer while strengthening our shared security.  (Applause.)

We’re also de-risking and diversifying our supply chains, from Micron investing $800 million to assemble semiconductors in Gujarat, to India joining the Minerals Security Partnership.  (Applause.)  And that partnership is helping to develop and ensure trusted sources for vital energy minerals.  India’s Epsilon Carbon is investing $650 million and creating more than 500 good-paying jobs to build electric vehicle batteries here in the United States – the largest-ever Indian investment in the U.S. EV battery industry.  (Applause.)

And of course, we’re investing in our people.  Our countries’ education systems have collectively trained the leaders of trailblazing companies in both the United States and India – Infosys, IBM, FedEx – and we’re committed to continuing to create new success stories.  Streamlining visa processes, opening new consulates to facilitate travel.  Expanding student exchanges, research collaborations.  Addressing skills gaps.  Promoting economic empowerment of women, ensuring that all our people have access to opportunity.

If we were gathered together 50, 75, 100 years ago and we were asking ourselves the question, “What constitutes the wealth of a nation,” probably the answer you’d get back then is maybe the size of its landmass, its population, the strength of its military, its abundance of raw materials.  And all of those things remain important.  But I think what the United States and India recognize, powerfully, together is that in this 21st century, the true wealth of our nation is our people, and our ability to maximize their potential is what sets us apart.  (Applause.)

President Biden often likes to say that America can be defined by a single word: possibilities.  These past few days have underscored how that spirit – that spirit of possibility – defines now the U.S.-India relationship.

Our governments will continue to do our part.  But I’m asking all of you in this room to continue to do yours.  Forge new ventures and partnerships.  Invent game-changing products and services.  Create unimagined opportunities.  Visit friends and family in India; host them here in the United States.  Maybe even right here, at the Kennedy Center.  Continue to be that engine powering our progress.  If we do all that – if we do all that, I truly believe that the U.S. and India will shape together a more peaceful, a more prosperous, a more connected future.

Thank you all so very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

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