The recent decision by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to renominate former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be U.S. ambassador to India has highlighted the peculiar state of the bilateral relationship.

Since Biden took office two years ago, the United States has not had an ambassador in New Delhi — and this at a time when the U.S. is assiduously courting India as a potential counterweight to China in the Indo-Pacific. Together with fellow "Quad" members Australia, Japan and the U.S., India is essential to maintaining the balance of power in the region. And as a member of the fledgling I2U2 partnership, which also includes Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S., India has a crucial role to play in containing Chinese influence in the Middle East.

Given India’s strategic importance, why has the White House left the ambassador position vacant for two years? The answer has nothing to do with India. Garcetti was nominated in July 2021, a few months into the new administration. But his Senate confirmation ran into trouble over allegations that as mayor he ignored sexual harassment complaints against one of his aides.