Washington, D.C., September 21, 2015 – Kicking off the inaugural U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and commemorating the 40th anniversary of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), the annual USIBC Leadership summit featured addresses by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, and other high-ranking officials from both governments and industry leaders.
Continuing the dialogue established by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in the last year, Vice President Biden delivered an address highlighting the importance of the U.S.-India trade relationship and the U.S. commitment to growing bilateral trade to $500 billion over the next few years. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to the importance of building stronger U.S.-India ties and reinforcing India’s position as an ally in the region.
USIBC Chairman Ajay Banga – who is President and CEO of MasterCard – delivered the State of the Council address. “The eyes of history remain fixed on India and the United States as they move closer to ushering in what could be a whole new era. A new era for India. A new era for India-U.S. Relations. It’s a new era that could see global trade accelerate and increase with Indian membership in organizations like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum,” said Banga.
The summit welcomed addresses from Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State, Independent Charge, for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy.
The summit also featured a panel discussion on “Why Make in India?” moderated by CNBC anchor Seema Mody, featuring Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Amitabh Kant; Emerson President Ed Monser; Chairman of HDFC Deepak Parekh and Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises Sunil Bharti Mittal.
USIBC presented its prestigious Global Leadership Awards to Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, and Shobhana Bhartia, Chairperson and Editorial Director of HT Media, one of India’s largest publicly listed media companies. Both were honored for their contributions and commitment to driving a more inclusive global economy and for their roles as women leaders.
The awardees were introduced by Purna Saggurti, Chairman Global Corporate & Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch who also serves as one of USIBC’s board of directors.
“These extraordinary leaders have made a lasting impact on their industries and on U.S.-India relations,” said Saggurti. “They have been a true inspiration to business and leaders across the globe and have raised the bar for all of us.”
“The USIBC plays a critically important role in strengthening the relationship between two great nations,” said Indra Nooyi. “There are tremendous opportunities ahead to work together in new ways that capitalize on our collective strengths and pave the way to shared prosperity for our countries, our companies and our citizens. PepsiCo is deeply committed to being part of this dialogue, and it is humbling to be honored at this year’s historic celebration.”
“As the representative of a media group that realizes the importance of looking at both India Shining, and the Other India to get a real picture of what is happening in our country, and as a woman leader in a nation where women are finally coming into their own, I am delighted to receive this award. Our two countries, both democracies, have a strong and free media and I see increasing opportunities for collaboration as media and technology companies from India and the U.S. navigate the evolving digital landscape,” said Shobhana Bhartia.
Renowned Indian-American artist, Natvar Bhavasr who is known for his abstract expressionism and “color-field” painting was awarded the Artistic Achievement Award. “My work aims to transcend boundaries and I am honored to receive this award that recognizes my Indian roots and my training in arts that took place in the United States. I would not be the artist I am today had it not been for the inspirations that have guided me in my absorbing the gifts offered by both cultures, my birthplace India and my half a century’s participation in the creative life of New York City,” said Natvar Bhavsar.
USIBC President Mukesh Aghi said, “In a world filled with complex security and economic challenges, the U.S.-India relationship matters more now than ever before. It is no surprise that Prime Minister Modi’s next stop is in Silicon Valley, the bedrock of entrepreneurship and innovation – those are the areas that will grow our economies, but also an area that requires strong talent and a continual commitment to foster a strong business environment. To achieve this end a crucial step is being taken to launch U.S. Business Centers in India to support the entry of U.S. small and mid-sized companies, universities, and skills’ providers into the market.”
Attending companies included leaders from MasterCard, PepsiCo, Bank of America, Boeing, American Tower Corp, Amway, Cigna, Dow, Pfizer, and UST Global.