Lalit K Jha | Washington | Dec 20, 2014
Richard Rahul Verma, who quietly played a key role in the Congressional passage of the civil nuclear deal and a strong advocate of deepening Indo-US ties, has been sworn in as the US Ambassador to New Delhi, becoming the first ever Indian-American to hold the post.
46-year-old was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry at the State department here.
Verma is scheduled to arrive in India ahead of Kerry's visit to Delhi next month. US President Barack Obama will arrive in late January to attend the Republic Day Parade on January 26 as the Chief Guest.
He was confirmed by the Senate by a voice vote last week.
Verma, who quietly played an important role in the Congressional passage of civil nuclear deal with India, had advocated for strong Indo-US ties when in the administration and recently started "India 2020" project at Centre for American Progress -- a top American-think tank.
He will replace Nancy Powell, who resigned in March after a damaging row over the treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade over visa fraud charges.
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.
He served as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2011, and was a senior counselor at law firm Steptoe & Johnson as well as the Albright Stonebridge Group.
"Known as a talented leader and manager, he is recognized for his many years of experience working on high-level policy in the federal government, in the private sector and with non-governmental organizations, especially on matters relating to the affairs of South Asia and India, including political-military relations," according to his profile on the State Department website.
His knowledge and ability to set the agenda will enable him to strengthen bilateral relations with India, a pivotal nation of critical global importance to the US, it said.
His parents came to the US in the early 1960s.
"It is a day of celebration for Indian Americans," said Dr Sampat Shivangi, national president of Indian American Forum for Political Education.
"Verma deserves this worthy appointment due to his dedication and well deserved respect he commands from President Obama and entire US Congress and the nation," said Shivangi, one of the few Indian-Americans invited to attend the swearing in ceremony at the State Department yesterday.