San Francisco, CA: India will be the world’s largest economy by 2050, Nicholas Burns, who served as US Envoy to India, said during the first ever West Coast Summit on April 21. Burns was joined by Venkatesan Ashok, India’s Consul General in San Francisco, for a panel discussion entitled, “The U.S.-India Partnership – Priorities for the Next Administration.”
“India is not difficult. Both parties want to forward the U.S.-India relationship. They agree on nothing, but they are united on this,” he said, noting that Modi has also been very clear on strengthening the partnership between the two nations. Ashok noted the two countries needed to change the strategic content of the relationship. Strategies to counter global terrorism must be an area of cooperation, he said. The two nations must also partner in creating educational opportunities, said Ashok. “India needs a huge amount of innovation. This can only happen by looking at models like Stanford, to make India an innovation power,” said the consul general.
The lives of 1.3 billion people in set to be transformed with the initiative of the Indian Government with the plan to digitalize India, said John Chambers, chairman of the U.S. India Business Council. “The opportunity is enormous,” said Chambers, the former CEO of Cisco who continues to serve as the company’s executive chairman. “Business and government working together can dramatically change economic growth,” he said. “We will see more impact over the next five years than we have seen in the past 40.”
According to Chambers, India could become “the model nation for the rest of the world, not just the developing world,” with inclusion of all its citizens in the villages and cities. “The window to India will only be open for a couple of years. If you’re not here, you won’t just miss the bus, you’ll be left behind,” he emphasized.
This half-day summit in the Silicon Valley was held to explore how the US-India business corridor is uniquely poised to build the digital future of the global economy. Against this backdrop, Amitabh Kant, the newly appointed CEO of National Institution of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog presented his plans on how the Government of India and industry could coordinate efforts to ensure the success of programs such as Digital India, Start Up India, Skill India, Financial Inclusion and Make in India.
“India is an oasis in the midst of very barren economic growth worldwide,” Amitabh Kant, CEO of the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog (Commission), told the crowd of investors and business leaders in his keynote address. Kant said the challenge for the nation was to get to a 10 percent economic growth rate over the next three decades and create jobs for the 65 percent of its population under the age of 35.
Earlier, USIBC president Mukesh Aghi kicked off the summit, noting that India’s economy is expected to grow by eight percent this year and that inflation is expected to drop by 5 percent. Foreign direct investment in India has grown by 14 percent, while dropping globally by 16 percent. “India’s policies must be streamlined so that we have a better return on investment,” the Indian American executive said. Aghi lauded the new budget released in February as one of “the best budgets the government has ever put together.”
By 2024, every Indian will be equipped with a smart phone and access to the Internet, radically transforming India’s business climate, asserted Kant. Massive urbanization – with more than 700 million villagers moving to “smart cities” — will also dramatically alter India’s landscape, he said.