US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster (right) along with Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu (left) and Union MoS Kiren Rijiju at the Tawang Festival on Monday Credit: EastMojo image 

Itanagar: Amidst huge fanfare and fervour, US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster declared the 7th edition of Tawang Festival in Arunachal Pradesh open on Monday.

Speaking to a mammoth and enthusiastic crowd in the mystic and serene city of Tawang, the US Ambassador extended his gratitude to the people of Tawang for the exceptional hospitality offered to him and his entourage. He also said that he was mesmerised by the colourful people, their dresses, custom and traditions which offer other parts of the world to learn and know.

Pitching on conducting cultural exchange programmes that can eventually strengthen the friendship and bonding between both the nations, Juster disclosed that the United States has been funding a lot for the preservation of culture and traditions in the states of India.

“This is one major sector where the United States and Arunachal Pradesh can partner,” expressed the US Ambassador. Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, Pema Khandu had earlier informed the US delegate about the rich diversity of the state.

US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster (right) along with Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu at Tawang Festival on Monday

While quoting that study on Arunachal would be quiet interesting, Juster informed that the University of Florida collaborated with Arunachal Pradesh’s lone Rajiv Gandhi Central University for combined research work. He further revealed that the United States has been funding Arunachal Pradesh in improving the health sector too. They are modernising hospitals and health facility centres at Namsai and Pasighat districts of the hill state. The US ambassador further disclosed that more health centres across the state will be upgraded with modern technologies so that proper and good health services are provided to the people.

Speaking on the occasion, CM Khandu said that the state is fortunate to have hosted two US Ambassadors to India in a span of three years. He briefed the visiting dignitaries about the strength, challenges and opportunities of the state.

“Arunachal Pradesh has huge potential in the form of natural resources. With proper planning and investments, the state has the potential to become the most prosperous and happiest states in the country,” Khandu said.

Adding further, he said that the state is now coming up for investment avenues in the area of tourism, agri & horticulture and hydropower for which he sought the support of the US Embassy to attract American investment.

Khandu further informed that Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has contracted out logistics to a local entrepreneur for finding HUMP flight wreckages belonging to WW II era.

“Until now, 20 aircraft have been identified and 5 martyrs’ remains and personal belongings have been recovered and were sent to their families,” Khandu said.

Khandu further informed that an HUMP museum is under construction in Pasighat and is scheduled for its inauguration on March 2020. He also requested Juster to visit Pasighat for its inauguration.

The CM further divulged on Abor Country Travels and Expedition, a travel agency from the state which has been working with the department of geology and earth sciences of the University of Washington, Seattle and UCLA for the past 10 years. PhD students from these universities visit Siang valley of Arunachal Pradesh for their field trips in regular intervals, Khandu said. In a way, a strong institutional bond has already been developed between Arunachal and the US.

Giving a brief on tourism, Khandu said that in last three years, Arunachal got only 336 US tourists. He hoped that by the help of US Embassy, this number would increase ten-fold in the coming two years.

Union minister of state for sports & youth affairs Kiren Rijiju while congratulating the people of Tawang for successfully hosting the Tawang Festival for seven consecutive years with much larger scale every passing year said, this festival is gradually becoming the face of Arunachal. With the hospitable people, tourist inflow in the area has increased manifold in just a couple of years.

“Tawang is finding a prominent place in the world tourism map today,” the Union minister of state added.

Rijiju further appreciated CM Khandu for the hard work he is putting into for the state’s development and said that he would do his best and provide all possible support from the Centres to ensure that the vision of the CM for the state is realised.

Earlier, tourism minister Nakap Nalo welcomed the dignitaries and gave a brief on the tourism activities in the state. Among others, US Consul General Patti Hoffman with other embassy delegates were also present

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