US President Joe Biden, whose administration has the largest number of India-Americans, understands how much the community has to offer in public service to the country and how special it is, Cincinnati City Mayor Aftab Pureval said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the US Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting at the White House on Friday.
“It (appointing so many Indian-Americans and South Asians in key administration positions) means that President Biden doesn’t take the community for granted. He understands how special we are and how much we have to offer in public service to the country,” Pureval told PTI in an interview.
Pureval is the first Indian-American, Tibetan-American and Asian-American to be elected as the mayor of Cincinnati — the third largest city in Ohio. He was sworn in as the city mayor on January 4.
“I am here along with mayors from across the country to give President Biden an update on how the bipartisan infrastructure bill and ARP (American Rescue Plan) have not only sustained cities and saved them during the pandemic crisis but also enabled them to grow equitably. It’s been a huge success for Cincinnati, and I can’t wait to share those stories with him,” Pureval said.
The mayor had met India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu in Cincinnati last week. Both come from Punjab.
“We talked about my family history. My father is from Punjab. He (Taranjit Singh Sandhu) is also from Punjab. We talked a lot about that. I had just recently visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. I gave him an update on the trip,” he said.
“But largely we talked about how Cincinnati and Ohio can continue to strengthen their relationship with India. We have so many Indian immigrants, people of Indian descent in not just our city but (also) in the tri-state area. It was such an honour that he decided to come to Cincinnati to meet with me and our business and community leaders. I’m so grateful we have such a strong relationship,” he said.
Being the first Asian-American mayor of Cincinnati, Pureval said, is a huge honour but also a huge responsibility.
“First and foremost, it’s my job to fight for the residents of Cincinnati. But it’s not lost on me that it’s also important to achieve so that I won’t be the last South Asian or the last Tibetan mayor not just in Cincinnati but in the country,” he said.
“I am so proud of our community, the Indian and the Tibetan communities, for how much we have achieved in this country.
“I am the product of the path that has been blazed by so many other people, including, frankly, my parents who moved to this country in their early 20s, not knowing anybody, not having anything and they made their way through this country and through this world. I will forever be grateful for that decision,” he said.
Responding to a question, Pureval said the first two years of the Biden administration have been a “massive success” and listed the infrastructure bill for rebuilding the country and ARP for supporting families, middle-class families, low-income families who were struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 lockdown as some of the achievements.
The CHIPS Act, he asserted, is transforming the way semiconductors are made in this country.
“In fact, it paved the way for one of the largest semiconductor plants built in the world in Ohio, which is going to have a huge impact on our local economy. And then (there is) the Inflation Reduction Act, one of the biggest pieces of climate change legislation ever,” he added.
Pureval further said President Biden has proved all those wrong who were sceptical about his commitment and ability to work in a bipartisan way.