Bobby Jindal has said he would do whatever he can to
strengthen bilateral relations between India and the
WASHINGTON, January 31 2005
"I will do everything I can to strengthen the
relationship," Jindal, Republican from Louisiana,
told IANS in an interview. "I have personally asked
the president to visit India and I believe he has said
he will be going some time this year.
"I think it should become routine for a president
to visit India, whether it is a Republican or a Democratic
president, just as every president goes to Europe."
The 33-year-old Congressman said the economies of the
two democracies were growing increasingly interdependent
and they shared the goal to fight terrorism.
Jindal said his policy focus in Congress would be education,
healthcare and the environment.
As the sole Indian American in the House of Representatives,
the second to make it to those hallowed halls 50 years
after California Democrat Dalip Singh Saund, Jindal
feels the pressure to prove himself.
"Indian Americans have been very supportive and
very excited that I'm here and want me to make a difference
as quickly as possible," he said. "They know,
I will make a difference, but I am part of a process."
Jindal already seems to have made his mark.
Things were going very well for him so far, Jindal
said. He was excited to be there, to be elected a leader
for Freshmen Republicans, meeting the defence secretary
and the health secretary, being called to the floor
twice to run special orders, and introducing his first
bill - a hectic schedule by all counts.
Into the third week of his term on Capitol Hill, Jindal
dwelt on the emotions that surged in him when he was
sworn in on the floor.
"It was an incredibly proud moment for me when
I was sworn in. As I have said before, I am proud of
my parents and first generation immigrants who came
to this country. It was a very special moment for my
father and for me.
"It was a great moment for me to bring my daughter
to the floor with me. Having both of them there summed
up why I went into public service," he said.
"I have a strong interest in education, in health
plans for the small business community, and in the Resources
Committee to help save Louisiana's coastline. We are
losing around 50 km of coastline a year!"
He said he was going to make sure the re-authorisation
for the Higher Education Act goes through. Jindal was
formerly president of the Louisiana University System.
He has made his interest in healthcare reform known
as well as in social security.
Having served as executive director on the president's
National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare
(Breaux-Thomas Commission) and as President George W.
Bush's advisor on health policy as assistant secretary
of health and human services, Jindal is especially equipped
to deal with health.
Even though he is not on the Health Committee in Congress,
the three committees he has been placed in are linked
to health issues in one way or the other. And he is
making no bones about how he can play a key role in
garnering bipartisan support for the president's social
security and health agendas.
Jindal has not gone the whole hog in supporting Bush's
views on bringing about changes in social security.
"At this time they (administration) say they recognise
there is a serious problem with social security and
that it must be dealt with. I am not one of those to
rush to take positions. I am not at all opposed to giving
workers choices, certainly younger workers.
"But at this point the administration has to make
sure details are known. Let President Bush give his
State of the Union address. I think it's too early for
us to take positions for or against," Jindal contended.
He applauded the achievements of Indian Americans in
this country and the expanding number of areas they
are excelling in and advised immigrants to "follow