attended last week -- as I have since 2002 -- this annual summit.
on the Board of the US India Business Council* from 2002 to 2005,
I have been passionate about fostering a positive perception of
India in the US. Further, having lived and experienced the early ‘reform
era’ since 1994 in India, I can say that the economic dialogue
between the two nations had been frustrating at best. India had
been slow to react to American interests, while the latter had ‘ignored’ India
in all its attempts to demonstrate a real, radical change in its
economic policies that benefit its people.
However, this year marks a dramatic shift
from previous years in its recognition by the US of India’s
development over the past decade. This was evidenced by the presence
500 very influential Indian and American business representatives
who were present. The real evidence, though, was the representation
of the US Government at the highest levels, in the form of
an authoritative speech by Vice President Dick Cheney. Further
evidence was the presence of US Ambassador Susan Schwab, the
just appointed US Trade Representative, several former US Ambassadors
to India, and the recognition of David Cote, Chairman and CEO
of Honeywell, and Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata group of
companies, for the highest business contribution to the Indo-US
Vice President Cheney had an already enthusiastic
audience in rapt attention, as he recounted the history and
current state of affairs of the US India relationship, and
then gave an insight into the ‘way forward’ for
a stronger strategic partnership.
He covered topics such as:
Dynamics of the cold war, and its impact
on the relationship
An emerging new partnership based on mutual trust, and shared
common values of democracy and commercial ties
A strong alliance based on the moral clarity of India’s
leadership, as US dominates as India’s largest trading
The current presence of Fortune 500 companies in India
The opportunity to operate in and profit in various sectors:
technology, outsourcing, retail, defense, real estate, infrastructure
and agriculture, in which India is already a leader
Resolution of challenges to the relationship: reduction in
trade tariffs and intellectual property rights (IPR) reform
The work of the CEO Forum (set up by President Bush and Prime
Minister Singh) which consists of 10 corporate CEOs from each
How “off shoring” and outsourcing is important
to the two countries to rebalance the demographic shifts happening
across the globe today; how US’s “protectionist” reaction
will only hurt the future innovation in the US.
Focus of both countries on education, innovation, skills development,
exchange of knowledge and entrepreneurship.
The strategic partnership around the Civil Nuclear agreement.
It was apparent that the White House and
the bipartisan Congress had understood the economic “shift” taking
place in India, and to which the US needs to pay attention.
Further, US companies should capitalize on the opportunities
that exist for them in India; they need to think seriously
about an India strategy.
Do you have an India strategy?
*The US India Business Council is the premier policy-development
organization promoting American economic interests in India.
Formed in 1975 at the request of the two governments, the
USIBC strengthens Indo-US relations on trade and investment
issues. Its primary mission is to foster a bilateral dialogue
between key business and government decision makers, encouraging
progressive policies in the two countries. It is established
under the aegis of the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington,