August 2023 The City of Carmel established a new Sister City relationship with Visakhapatnam, India. Mayor Jim Brainard joined an international virtual meeting on Tuesday, July 26, with Golagani Hari Venkata Kumari, who serves as Mayor of Visakhapatnam. They signed a memorandum of understanding that formally establishes the relationship. Saikanth Varma, Commissioner of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation , Raju Chinthala, President of Indiana India Business Council and Pavan Varma, Resident of Carmel, also joined the signing ceremony. This is Carmel’s fifth international Sister City relationship. Prior to this, Carmel had established similar relationships with Jelgava, Latvia; Cortona, Italy; Kawachinagano, Osaka, Japan; and Xiangyang, Hubei, China. Strengthening Global Economic and Cultural Relationships According to the memorandum, the focus of future exchanges will include the exchange of people, ideas and information in a wide variety of areas of mutual interest, including business, trade, culture, education, healthcare, government, technology and other endeavors. The agreement also establishes a joint effort to explore the growth of business and trade relations between the two economies. Visakhapatnam “Vizag” is the largest and most populous metropolitan city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is situated between the Eastern Ghats mountain ranges and the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The city’s history dates back to the 6th century B.C.E. when it became an ancient Port city that had trade relations with the Middle East and Rome. The city is home to several educational institutions and the headquarters for the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Command. Visakhapatnam is also a major tourist destination and is known for its beaches, ancient Buddhist sites and the natural environment of the surrounding Eastern Ghats. It is nicknamed the “City of Destiny” and “Jewel of the East Coast.” “Sister cities, in general, are important for us as a country and as a city,” Brainard stated. “These relationships are good for business, students and others to learn about other cultures. In this case, it’s particularly important because Carmel has so many residents who originally immigrated to the United States from India. So, it’s important that we understand the cultural similarities and dissimilarities. I look forward to seeing visitors that can perform in our festivals and concerts, and we look forward to sending our performances, artists, students and tourists to Visakhapatnam as well.” Recognizing that the relationships that the city has built with members of many different communities unifies the Carmel community and sends a message to current and future residents about the importance of preserving the work that has been done and the relationships that have been cultivated. Chinthala reflected on the last several years that he has spent working with the Indiana community, both abroad and throughout central Indiana, and with Mayor Brainard, to foster economic and cultural partnerships that have contributed to the growing population of Indian residents in Carmel. “The mayor has been building these global relationships, and it is important that Carmel is connected to the world,” Chinthala stated. “We had been thinking about having a sister city in India for the last few years, so we —the mayor and myself—evaluated several cities in India. Vizag is a very beautiful city, and it has a lot of history. You can see beaches and mountains, which we don’t have here. It’s a fascinating city with architecture, arts, and a very large, historical port.” Exchanging culture as well as commerce is an important component of Sister City relationships. Chinthala elaborated, “Our mission consists of a few things, one being an exchange of our performing arts. We look forward to having performing arts groups come to Carmel and perform at the Palladium and maybe we have a performing arts group from Carmel that goes to Vizag. Also, I see Carmel residents traveling to Vizag for tourism. Many don’t know about the city, and when they go to India, they go to Mumbai and Delhi … they go to the Taj Mahal. Maybe we can add Vizag to their list of cities. And once we have the relationships between people, the Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, governments and businesses, the sky is the limit as to the benefits.” You can learn more about the city and opportunities for tourism by visiting Visakhapatnam.ap.gov.in/tourism.