US Ambassador head over heels for Nagaland

The media with the US Ambassador.

The media with the US Ambassador.

Morung Express News
Kohima | December 4

“I fell in love with Nagaland, its people, its culture, but more than that, its dreams,” the US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti remarked during his interaction with media persons on December 2 at Hotel Vivor, Kohima. 

He termed his first visit to the northeast of India as a remarkable trip, one in which he fell in love with the vibrancy and the culture of the people of Nagaland. He also rated the Hornbill Festival as the best cultural festival.

According to him, it would be frustrating for some folks in Nagaland “thinking when we will get to where we want to go?” At the same time, he added, “It’s also breath-taking to see the transformation in such a short period of time.” 

As an “outsider’s eyes,” he admitted to seeing hope, brilliance and commitment and wanting to match it with the 4 Ps (Peace, Prosperity, Planet and People)— reinforcing peace, spreading prosperity, protecting the planet and engendering people to people contact. 

“Impressed” was his observation of the infrastructure and the work that has reportedly gone into transforming the road (Dimapur-Kohima highway) in the last ten years. “I’ve seen a lot of roads, and been on the bumpiest roads and the best highways in America,” he said, while stating that he was impressed by the topography, pineapples and the people’s cultural diversity. 

“To see the way the small town lives is incredibly impressive and how clans have such a sense of unity and the way the rice paddy and the lands are shared, the crop rotation, and their conservation efforts,” was his remark on Khonoma, regarded as Asia’s first green village. 

Drawing a parallel between his home country and Nagaland, he said that Nagaland is also struggling with something that the USA struggle with, such as drug abuse. While drugs, disease and environmental degradation are some of the common challenges, he added that the other challenge is making sure that women and girls have opportunity.

Towards this end, he said that he looks forward to returning to Nagaland state again not just to see the culture but to see where the US Mission can help in areas of education, economic opportunity, cultural exchange, sports, health and others.   

“America is very committed to working together with the Indian Government in all parts of India… we won’t come here and tell people what to do, we will come and listen. But I do think that health, economic development, environmental action, these are three areas that are very very important,” he said.

He exuded optimism in collaborating on infrastructure development like power and roads but “in an environmentally sensitive way.” “To me, I am doing a lot of listening and if in my time as the Ambassador, I can help catalyst two or three of these things that can change Nagaland, I would be a very happy man to come (back) here, yes, for Hornbill (Festival), twenty years from now with my grandchildren not only to see the festival but also to go to the real Nagaland,” he added.