by Shobana Muratee
HOUSTON –Addressing an elite gathering at the breakfast meeting of nearly 20 executives representing Indian-American companies in Houston, Indian Ambassador to the US, Harsh V Shringla, said, “This is the first time we have a comprehensive meeting with Indian companies based in one particular place. It’s been very useful for me to understand exactly what you are doing and how you are contributing to the relationship.”
The meeting was hosted in honor of the Ambassador’s visit by Consul General in Houston; Dr. Anupam Ray at the Indian Consulate here on Tuesday, May 21.
Earlier, Consul General, Dr. Ray welcomed Ambassador Shringla and accompanying senior Indian diplomat Arunish Chawla, who is head of the economic issues at the Indian Embassy in the U.S, Shambhu Hakki, First Secretary (Press, Information & Culture) and Satwant Khanalia, First Secretary, ((Political & Senate Liaison) and company executives.
Ambassador Shringla’s visit to Texas is part of his travelling for the last four months, visiting various Indian Consulates in the US and meeting with US companies that are investing in India.
India –US Relationship
“In general terms the economic and commercial aspects of our partnership are perhaps the most import element in the India–US relationship. Of course, the relationship has attained tremendous momentum because of the initiative of the leadership,” he said refereeing to the close contact between the two leaders Prime Minister Modi and President Trump.
“We have close strategic partnership, close synergy on issues of security, counter terrorism, defense, but the underpinnings of the relationship are based on business and that’s where you come in.,” he said.
Ambassador Shringla said the United States was a major partner in India’s efforts to develop its economy. India’s flagship schemes such as Make-in India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities and many of the schemes have the involvement of US companies by way of investments, technology and also in terms of employment relations, he added.
“The good thing for us is that it is not a one way street,” Shringla pointed out as Indian companies are also investing in the United States. IT companies like WIPRO, TCS, Infosys and other are creating assets and values here that are very significant. “We are contributing over $50 billion to the economy.” Indian companies are investing in cutting edge technology development here he observed.
Trade between India and US is also doing very well reaching $142 billion last year. “We are buying more American goods consciously. This year we want to take it up to $5.5 billion.
“The Energy sector is important area where we have increased our collaboration and also increased our offtake from US,” he said giving the example of commercial aircraft. “We have placed orders for nearly 300 civilian aircrafts amounting to $39 billion,” he said. Also, India has introduced new items such as poultry to the list of imports from US. Defense is a new equation; 15 years ago India had no defense ties today we are importing worth $18 billion.” “All this has reduced the adverse state balance from $25 billion to $21billion.
US Investments in India
Nearly 2000 US companies (many are Fortune 500) have offices in India. “Our success really lies in ensuring that there is a greater interest and involvement of US industry and businesses in India in line with our own priorities in terms of development of India,” Shringla said. The US has some interest in India’s low cost house scheme and has some new innovative designs he mentioned.
Texas is an important state as 10% of the total India – US trade is out of Texas.
On May 20, Ambassador Shringla met with Governor Greg Abbott at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The two leaders engaged in a productive discussion regarding the strong economic and cultural ties between Texas and India. They spoke on the importance of the oil and gas, healthcare, manufacturing, and IT sectors, as well as the need for skills-based training opportunities for Texas community colleges in India, the Governor’s office stated.
Ambassador Shringla also had a meeting with Houston Mayor, Turner. “In all of these interactions, the role of Indian companies in creating employment and adding value is very important factor. I think there is great appreciation.”
Ambassador Shringla urged that the companies leverage the services of the indo-American Chamber of Commerce and the office of the Consul General. “We would like to see Indian companies not only come together to pool and synergize their requirements substantively but also look at yourselves as a brand.” “Branding India is important.” It is done at the national level and the Prime Minister he said was, “most successful manifestation of our brand”. It is also incumbent on us to contribute in some ways to the societies we live in do it enhance the image India he said. “Whatever you do brand India,” was his message.
Fastest growing Economy
Ambassador Shringla gave a insight into India’s economy and progress. “Five years ago India was 11th largest economy in the world; today, it is the seventh largest. “We are trying to become fifth largest this year. India is the fastest growing economy contributing to 17% global growth, “Especially at the time when the world seems to heading towards either stagnations or recession,” he pointed out.
Five years ago India’s inflation was over 10% today is down to 4.6%. Fiscal deficit which was over 6% is down to 3.4%. India has attracted $249billion in investments in the last five years. “We are looking at ourselves as a $5 trillion economy in the next five years and $10 trillion economy in the next 10 years,” he said. Knowing it to be an ambitious target, Shringla said, “We are looking at technology at different levels that will help us leapfrog the processes in India like NITI Aayog,( The National Institution for Transforming India). India’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure development would need foreign direct investments. The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is getting support from Japan, UAE, Saudi Arabia Singapore, he said and were looking into US investors as well.
The Indian companies at the Breakfast Meeting included: Oil India USA Inc., GAIL Global USA Inc., ONGC Videsh, Reliance Holdings USA, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra USA, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Tech Mahindra, Welspun Tubular, Starflex, LT Foods Americas, Sunrise Natural Foods, Sunita Hydrocolloids, SAE Towers, MyInd Makers. Also participating was the Jagdip Ahluwalia, Executive Director Indo –American Chamber of Commerce and the media.
National Day of Yoga
Ambassador Shringla assured that his office would support all efforts get the message out especially reach out to the younger people through social media like Myind Makers were doing. He urged everyone to make a concerted effort to promote the upcoming National Day of Yoga and other events Vegetarian Food Festival.