Nik Deogun, CEO of the Americas and U.S. Senior Partner at the Brunswick Group, moderated a panel on U.S.-India technology collaboration and innovation at India Incorporated’s ‘India Global Week’. The panel featured Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications, Electronics & IT and Law & Justice, Government of India, joined by Surya Kant, President, North America, UK and Europe, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), as well as Rajen Vagadia, Vice President and President, Qualcomm India & SAARC.
The conversation highlighted India’s present initiatives in several significant areas of technological innovation, as well as the potential for industry members to support India’s growth in these. Minister Prasad highlighted the advances made to support India’s growing importance in the global digital supply chain, from ease of doing business measures to digitizing outdated business regulations. Mr. Deogun followed this with a question regarding 5G’s relevance to these advances, and the danger of India potentially ‘missing the bus’ on that front. In response, Minister Prasad quipped, “India is too big a country to miss any bus, and our technological background confirms that.” He went on to speak of the importance of 5G, as well as robust security apparatus to support 5G trials, being developed in partnership with IIT Madras. Mr. Vagadia detailed Qualcomm’s role in 5G, explaining that it had already arrived in India and the focus was now on identifying relevant applications for India through 5G Hackathons. Surya Kant spoke of how TCS was able to assist its clients return to a ‘business-as-usual’ model in the COVID period, and how its community first approach to job creation facilitated this success.
As part of India Incorporated’s ‘India Global Week’, USISPF Senior Vice President, Government Affairs & Policy, Nolty Theriot moderated a panel on U.S.-India energy collaboration. The webinar featured Mahmoud Jardeaneh, Energy Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, in conversation with Sujoy Ghosh, Vice President for APAC & India at First Solar; and Robert Fee, Vice President, International Affairs and Commercial Development, at Cheniere Energy.
The virtual conversation was an insight to the progress made in bilateral energy trade between the U.S. and India over the past few years. Mr. Jardeaneh called energy the centerpiece of the bilateral relationship, exemplified by the increases in oil, LNG, liquified gas, and other exports. Panelists acknowledged the impact of COVID on the growth of cooperation. However, Mr. Fee also highlighted how COVID had shown the resiliency of natural gas and LNG thanks to long-term contracts and a portfolio approach. Mr. Ghosh also appreciated how the current period had created an economic case for moving to renewable energy. This is a goal outlined by U.S.-India Gas Task Force as well, focused on supporting innovative solutions in India’s transition to natural gas.
USISPF President and CEO, Dr. Mukesh Aghi moderated a conversation between Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States, and Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster, U.S. Ambassador to India, discussing the history, current relevance, and potential growth of the U.S.-India partnership in the current period. This conversation was conducted as part of India Incorporated’s ‘India Global Week’.
The Ambassadors both spoke warmly of the shared values of democracy, social justice, as well as the large people-to-people connect that formed the bedrock of the U.S.-India relationship. They also spoke favorably of the prospect of a free trade deal between the two nations to solidify the trade relationship, already growing at 10% each year, and create mutually favorable trade opportunities in defense, investments, and even healthcare. Particularly in the COVID period, both Ambassadors highlighted the importance of India-U.S. partnership in medical research and production. Finally, the energy sector was identified as the component of the trade basket with a lot of potential moving forward, and an area where both sides would see a win-win situation through collaboration.
An insightful discussion on U.S.-India defense partnerships was moderated by Vikram J. Singh, USISPF Senior Advisor for Defense & Aerospace, and featured Dr. Joe Felter, William J. Perry Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; William Blair, Vice President and Chief Executive at Lockheed Martin India; Salil Gupte, President of Boeing India; N Raveeswaran, Head of Strategic Business Partnerships, Aerospace & Defense, at Mahindra Defense; and strategic and foreign policy analyst Dr. Harinder Sekhon.
Mr. Blair and Mr. Gupte highlighted major ongoing programs by Lockheed Martin and Boeing respectively in collaboration with the Indian government and other private players as examples of the current defense partnership and its potential for growth. Panelists also spoke of opportunities for the U.S. and India to collaborate in defense and aerospace raw materials, for which they recommended a government-to-government and consortium approach. Dr. Sekhon discussed the importance of defense in the current political climate, and the pertinence of information sharing through systematic security classifications on either side for ease of access. This underscored Mr. Felter’s pertinent final point, that the greatest strength to this defense relationship would be trust, which both sides could shore up by putting ‘meat on the bones’ of information and technology sharing initiatives. The panel offered a peek into the future and strategy of the U.S.-India defense relationship, as well as the pertinent role played by the arms and aerospace industry in facilitating growth. While strategic partnerships were concluded as an important path to take this relationship further, panelists emphasized the importance of mutual trust in creating the most mutually beneficial policies.
Anil Advani, Managing Partner at Inventus Law, moderated a panel hosted by India Incorporated as part of their ‘India Global Week’ on enabling start-ups in the U.S.-India corridor. The webinar featured Umesh Sachdev, Co-founder & CEO of Uniphore; Bipul Sinha, Co-founder & CEO of Rubrik; and Praveen Akkiraju, Board Advisor at Team8.
Panelists discussed the state of play in the U.S.-India tech corridor. Bipul Sinha highlighted the transition of India from a technology and production hub, to a major producer of entrepreneurs today leading to the proliferation of Indian-owned business ventures. Praveen Akkiraju also commended the rapid digitization of Indian infrastructure, speaking highly of the sophistication of the Indian market in adapting to new technologies as well. He spoke of healthcare tech and unconventional ventures outside traditional business-to-business or business-to-consumer areas as major investment opportunities in the future. The panelists also highlighted the potential of the dynamic US-India startup corridor to create well-paying jobs in the both countries- a win-win opportunity for both economies.