Atlanta Council Member Kwanza Hall and Consul General Ajit Kumar at Martin Luther King Jr. celebration held at the City Club in Buckhead.

Atlanta Council Member Kwanza Hall joined India’s consul general, Ajit Kumar, at a reception in Buckhead held on Jan. 19 in honor of India’s new economic initiatives and to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Mr. Kumar recalled that one of the first events he attended upon his arrival in Atlanta three years ago was to celebrate the independence of India from colonial rule at the statue of Mohandas Gandhi in the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic District, which Mr. Hall represents.

He also cited a magazine article from 1957 in which Dr. King is quoted about the importance of Gandhi’s teachings in developing his personal support for non-violence.

Mr. Hall said that he looked forward to visiting India in the near future under the U.S. State Department’s World Learning for Legislative Fellows program. He is to visit Delhi, Behradun and  Bangladore and possibly other cities with a small delegation.

“You know I’m excited about this trip,” he added. “I’ve always wanted to see India.”

Mr. Kumar praised U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to India as a demonstration of his commitment to the ambitions of India’s new government led by Narendra Modi.

Mr. Obama’s trip following his State of the Union Address will be his second during his administration and “a first” by an American president to visit the country during his term of office. 

He has been criticized by some U.S. media outlets for a three-day overseas ceremonial trip as the prerogative of “a lame duck” president.

Mr. Obama first visited India in November 2010, four years prior to Mr. Modi’s election as prime minister last year.  Mr. Modi visited the U.S. in the last week of September 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently returned from India where he attended an economic summit in Gujarat, Mr. Modi’s home state.

According to news reports, Mr. Kerry discussed with Mr. Modi U.S.-India cooperation in the civil nuclear sector, climate change, defense and security and economic ties.

Mr Kumar in his remarks at the City Club event, which was attended by about 130 people,  focused on India’s ambition to become a global manufacturing center.

He cited predictions from the World Bank and other sources that India’s growth rate would exceed China’s by 2017 and that by 2024 it would be as high as 9 percent of its gross national product.

At the end of his presentation he made available a brochure titled “Make in India,” which outlines the government’s new initiatives “to facilitate investment, foster innovation, protect intellectual property and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure.”

He also described the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, which has been named by KPMG, the professional services firm, as one of the “100 Most innovative Global Projects.”

The corridor is to be a global manufacturing and investment destination in an effort to increase the share of manufacturing in India’s gross domestic product and to create smart sustainable cities where manufacturing will be the key economic driver.

The plan includes the development of new “smart” cities that will be benchmarked against “the best new generation industrial cities in the world.”

The corridor project has been developed in concert with the Japanese government, which Mr. Kumar told Global Atlanta has had close ties with Gujarat where Mr. Modi was chief minister from 2001 to 2014.

“Japan has been involved with the (corridor) project since its inception,” he said, adding that Japanese companies are expected to invest as much as $25 billion in India in coming years.

Mr. Kumar’s term of three years is about to be over, but he is awaiting reassignment.