RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe community had a special opportunity to listen and meet with Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok, the Consul General of India. Local resident, Linda Leong, hosted the event at the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club.
Before introducing the ambassador, Leong told guests that she wanted to thank the new owners of the Garden Club, Bruce and Brenda Kleege, for their generosity in making the venue so affordable, Robert Kenyon of First Cabin for the donation of an antique vase, and Coomber Family Ranch Wines for tastings before the event.
Leong also mentioned that any remaining proceeds from the event would go directly to the Scuba Family Memorial Fund.
Ashok received a warm welcome and discussed the relations between the United States and India and how these collaborations were providing an inspiration to his country.
“We have a vision and we need to push that vision,” Ashok said.
According to Ashok, the India-U.S. relations have graduated to a global partnership since they share similar democratic values, which reach both regionally and nationally.
The alliance Ashok was speaking of was multifaceted which included defense, counter-terrorism and internal security, education, sustainable power and resources, economic trade, science and technology, health and more.
He also spoke of India taking part in more manufacturing. In tandem was the implementation of freight and passenger corridors, infrastructure, clean water, sewage facilities, renewable energy sources, sanitation, and better public transportation.
The United States, he said, is showing interest their Smart City Project.
“In fact, I attended a session in Berkley where students have been competing with each other to design suggested Smart City ideas,” he said.
India plans to start with five of these cities scattered in northern India, south central India and west India.
The cities would be poised where the employment is and offer affordable and attractive housing.
“We are trying to increase these five cities slowly in stages to a hundred cities so that we have a mesh of these Smart Cities all across the land,” he said, noting how renewable energy would be utilized.
In reference to healthcare, this spanned from the profession, medical diagnostics, medical therapies, and to medical devices made available to people.
He went on to say that healthcare is a very critical area where they see a benefit coming.
“Today, the infant mortality rate which is the chance that a child will live beyond the age of five in India is not very good when you compare that to the world’s standard. We need to change this because this is one of the reasons why our population is so high because people are never sure how many of their children will outlive them,” Ashok said. “In improving health standards, we’ll still see a significant drop in population when people realize the economic value of smaller families which will live longer.”
And this will tie into the Smart City Project which focuses on hygiene, sanitation, clean water supply and sewage treatment facilities. As well, these areas would be addressed in the rural parts of India.
By improving these standards, Ashok said, the country would see an automatic reduction in disease, while improving longevity and quality of life.
“We sense a feeling of great optimism and will take it forward,” he said.