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Highlights from Second Annual India Leadership Summit

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On October 21, a delegation of USISPF board members led by USISPF Chairman John Chambers met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss avenues for strengthening U.S.-India bilateral relations, growing private sector initiatives, and ease of doing business in the country. USISPF Board members expressed optimism in India’s reform agenda on the back of several reforms such as the reduction in corporate taxes, roll-back of angel tax among others. There was strong consensus within the group to accelerate US industry engagement in India’s start-up and innovation space and deepen commitment to raise the standard of living. 

The delegation also presented Prime Minister Modi with three recent USISPF reports: on U.S.-India bilateral trade (report estimates that by 2025, bilateral trade could range between $283 billion to $327 billion); high-tech manufacturing (identifying the potential for India’s high-tech sectors to offer an additional investment of $21 billion, and create jobs for the Indian economy); and coal gasification (USISPF has constituted a working group of American and Indian companies in the coal gasification sector, and is working with the Government of India to bring the latest technology and investments in this sector).

Growing U.S.-India bilateral trade and other areas of strategic partnership such as defense, energy security, and technological innovation was the overarching theme of USISPF’s Second Annual Leadership Summit— a gathering of more than 400 attendees that included global CEOs, Cabinet Ministers and Secretaries of the Government of India, US Government officials, former Ambassadors, academics and think-tanks, and members of the national and regional press. There was overwhelming support from the business community to see a finalized U.S.-India trade deal down the road along with the strong desire to see India rise as an innovation hub for the world.

The Promise of “Make in India for the World”

Discussions in this panel included the contours of Make in India, growing India’s strengths in commercial aviation and defense, and the reforms needed to grow India’s position in global manufacturing with DPIIT Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra, Mike Train (Emerson), Vishal Wanchoo (GE South Asia) and Adil Zainulbhai (Quality Council of India). 

Next Steps for the U.S.-India Strategic Relationship

Former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner and BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav discussed India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region. BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav, said, “I would like to my friends in the US to not just look at India as a large market. However, India can partner with the Unites States and become a hub to service and cater to the emerging markets in the Indo-Pacific Region east of India.”

A Conversation between Dr. Condoleezza Rice and USISPF Board Member Purna Saggurti

Former US Secretary of State and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, Condoleezza Rice spoke about the landmark US-India Civil Nuclear Deal, saying it was “not just about nuclear power. It opened up ways for India and the United States to have much more sophisticated relationship today.”

India’s Role in Geopolitics of Energy

Former US Ambassador to India Tim Roemer and India’s Minister of Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan spoke on the world’s changing model of energy consumption. Minister Pradhan said that “India is going to change the energy market of the world” and sees “the US playing a key role in this process,” pointing to the rapid growth of U.S. energy imports to India over just the past few years. 

Balancing Access & Innovation in India's Healthcare Market

Dr. Aravind Panagariya (Professor at Columbia University), Ambassador Richard Verma, Lynn Cynelli (Merck), and Claudio Lillenfeld (Gilead Sciences) discussed US-India cooperation in the healthcare and innovation space. Reducing out of pocket expenses for patients, improving regulatory frameworks & access to healthcare are important areas to explore in the sector. 

The Role of Entrepreneurship in India’s Growth Story

Four successful entrepreneurs: Bipul Sinha (Rubrik); Ajay Singh (SpiceJet), and Mohandas Pai (Manipal Global Education), and Nik Deogun (Brunswick group) delved into their personal entrepreneurial journeys and why India needs to create an entrepreneurial culture that respects and celebrates risk taking. 

The Future of Innovation

Stressing on the need for India to lead the path towards an innovation-led economy, Alphabet’s Technical Advisor, Dr. Eric Schmidt, discussed the tools India needs to grow its economy with PwC Chairman, Bob Moritz. India has an “abundance of talent”  and the key to a success story for India will lie in defining its contribution towards innovation for the future such as artificial intelligence.

Conversation with USISPF Chairman John Chambers & External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar expressed confidence in the strength of the US-India relationship today, saying “there is a willingness in both governments to work together and solve for the issues that both countries are facing.” He highlighted cooperation in “technology and a knowledge-driven economy” as a key opportunity for US-India relations.

The Evolution of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership

Speaking about the changing dynamics of U.S.-India relations, former National Security Adviser Dr. Henry Kissinger said, “No two countries are better situated to grow together on strategic issues than US and India. This has allowed the two countries to act as partners without a formal agreement.”

Balancing Trade in the New Global Order

US-India trade stands at $142 billion & counting. Panelists– Dr. Aravind Panangariya (Columbia University), Sachin Shah (AIG), Amit Midha (Dell), former Foreign Secretary Ambassador Kanwal Sibal, and Rick Rossow (McLarty) discussed trade dynamics & investment flows between the two global engines of growth and addressing market access concerns remain at the center of the ongoing US-India trade negotiations.

Roadmap for India’s Economic Growth

In conversation with USISPF Board Member Sanjay Nayar, Minister of Commerce and Railways Piyush Goyal said, “We both believe that India and the US should look at a much larger engagement in the days ahead, possibly an announcement for a bilateral agreement, which will go beyond the mere tinkering we are doing at present.”

USISPF also hosted its annual board meeting in New Delhi, on October 20. The guest of honor at this year’s meeting was the Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Puri, who spoke with KPMG India CEO & Chairman Arun Kumar on the role of trade in the US-India relationship.

Minister Puri provided insight that the trade issues on the table “are not of serious nature” and, in many cases, are close to resolution. He also highlighted that the relationship between the US and India goes far beyond these issues, although “the trade component also reflects the nature of the relationship.”

Other guests included Members of Parliament, members of the Government of India, and Edgard Kagan, the Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy. US Ambassador to India Ken Juster also met with the board to discuss the bilateral relationship and ways to deepen US-India relations.

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