In North American sports terminology, you could call it a home and “home” game.
The two North American countries – Canada and the U.S. – are now represented in India by envoys who are themselves of Indian heritage.
New Canadian High Commissioner to New Delhi, Nadir Patel, and new U.S. Ambassador to that country, Richard Rahul Verma, presented their credentials to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Jan. 16.
Both Patel and Verma are the first persons of Indian origin to represent their respective countries in their ancestral homeland.
And naturally, both have impressive credentials and come with considerable diplomatic and administrative experience.
The new Canadian envoy is the son of Gujarati immigrants. Speaking about his new role, 44-year-old Patel said: “I look forward to working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to further expand ties between Canada and India.
“There are several areas where collaboration is already strong, and there is scope for even greater cooperation to enhance our mutual prosperity, security and people-to-people ties.”
Incidentally, Modi himself is from Gujarat, and previously was Chief Minister of the state.
Prior to his arrival in India, Patel served as Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
Before that, he held a series of high level government positions, including Chief of Staff to the National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, and Secretary to the Cabinet.
From 2009 to 2011, Patel was Canada’s Consul General in Shanghai.
Patel was selected in 2012 by the Embassy newspaper as one of the 80 most influential Canadians shaping Canada’s foreign policy, and in 2014, he was placed in the Top 100 list in the Power and Influence magazine.
In January 2011, he was profiled by The Globe and Mail newspaper as one of “45 Canadians Changing the World”.
He is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the HEC Paris School of Management.
Around 1.2 million Canadians are of Indian origin and are second only among Asian Canadians to the 1.5 million-strong Chinese-Canadian community.
Meanwhile, Verma, whose parents migrated from India to the U.S. in the 1960s, said he was looking forward to work with India on the shared goals of security, development and prosperity.
Verma also acknowledged the contribution of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent to North America and vowed to “strive to live up to the high standards they have set”.
They “took a chance like my parents, who worked hard, who continue to pursue their dreams, and along the way have helped ensure India and the United States become the closest of friends and partners,” he said.
His appointment came just days ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India.
Verma had served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.
The New Delhi post had been vacant since the previous U.S. ambassador, Nancy Powell, quit last May after India-US ties hit a low following a major diplomatic spat over the December 2013 arrest and strip search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.