India matters for America; America Matters for India

India matters for America; America Matters for India
India matters for America; America Matters for India

A new publication and web resource on India-US relations delves into a new era of multi-dimensional bilateral ties. “The relationship between India and America has overcome the 'hesitations of history'.” This was a statement made by the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, at his joint address to the US Congress in 2016. The “hesitation” refers to the phase where in a bipolar Cold War era India decided to adopt a foreign policy of non-alignment and India's weak economy pre-1991 wasn't helping the American cause either. Nevertheless, the relationship has now moved far away from that “hesitation” and in the last two decades has become reflective of what Undersecretary Nicholas Burns of the Bush administration had predicted: “Within a generation many Americans may view India as one of the most important strategic partners”.

Since 2014, PM Modi has met with two different American Presidents for a total of seven summits, including the most recent meeting on June 26 this year with the newly installed commander in chief President Donal J. Trump. Since the last two decades there has been a sense of mutual benefit in this partnership and it seems to continue under the Trump administration. The two leaders' joint statement claims prosperity through partnership by combatting terrorist threats, promoting stability across the Indo-Pacific region, increasing free and fair trade, and strengthening energy linkages. What used to be a strategic dialogue until 2015, was rephrased as a strategic and commercial dialogue recognising the importance of strategic, economic and political connects. However, to be able to enhance this relationship, it is imperative to collate what exists of this relation currently and to build upon that. With that objective FICCI, in collaboration with the East-West Center, released a comprehensive report during PM Modi's visit to the US for a meeting with President Trump. The report highlights the multi-dimensional partnership shared by these two nations. The report is aptly titled 'India Matters for America / America Matters for India'. Often an economic partnership is measured by the investment figures but this report draws attention to the strategic and economic collaboration that exists beyond that. It draws attention to the expanding partnership in defence, security, trade and investment, and education, tourism and contributions made by the diaspora and people-to-people exchanges. It lays emphasis on the connect between the Indian and American states. For example, 31 states have more than 1,000 jobs dependent on exports to India while an additional six states have 10,000 jobs or more. It also brings attention to the fact that almost 166,000 Indian students studied in the US during 2015-16. This was a 25 per cent increase over the previous year and these students contributed over $5 billion to the economy. A less known fact also is that India conducts over 50 events with the US, including bilateral exercises and personal exchanges, more than with any other country. On job creation, we seldom talk about the jobs supported by exports. This research sheds light on some interesting data to that effect. It states that exports to India from the US support 260,000 American jobs across all 50 states. One would assume that the most number of Indian companies present in the US would be concentrated in states like New York and California. But this report measures that states like Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wyoming and Georgia are not far behind. Sectors like tourism are also not far behind in mutually benefiting the two countries. The United States is the number one source of tourism to India, and Indians are the seventh-largest source of visitor spending to the US, with Indian tourists in one year contributing $11.4 billion to the US economy. The nearly 3.5 million Indian Americans living in the US are among the wealthiest ethnic groups in the US, with a median household income of over $100,000 in 2015. True to the statement made by PM Modi in his 'Wall Street Journal' article: “The US and India are forging a deeper and stronger partnership that extends far beyond the Beltway and Raisina Hill”. We feel this report is a reflection of that sentiment. It is an effort to bring to light some lesser known facts in the public discourse, such as the fact that the US and India share 25 Sister Relationships. Interestingly, on the day of the report launch, Rep. Gabbard announced that Hawaii will soon be sharing a sister-state partnership with the state of Goa. We hope that this report can serve as a reference point for the administration and legislators on both sides. Its launch was organised on the Capitol Hill on June 26 and was attended by around 100 plus participants including Rep. George Holding (co-chair House India Caucus), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Co-Chair House India Caucus), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rep. Ted Yoho (Chair, Subcommittee on Asia & the Pacific), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (First Indian American Woman in the Congress), Rep. Eliot Engel (one of the founding members of India Caucus) and Rep. Ami Bera (former co-chair House India Caucus). Sangita Reddy, FICCI′s National Head of Healthcare Committee, Kapil Sharma (VP, Government & Public Affairs, North America at Wipro), Adrian Mutton (President & CEO, Sannam S4) and Richard M. Rossow (Senior Adviser & Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at CSIS) were on a panel at the event to voice the opinion on behalf of the industry. 'India Matters for America/ America Matters for India' was co-initiated between Dr Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center - Washington, and Ridhika Batra, Director, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) US.

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