India-U.S Ties More Than Trade Relationship: Ambassador Singh

Indian ambassador Arun Singh

Indo-US relationship has moved up the ladder from the initial stages of buyer-seller relationship, especially in defense matters, to co-development and co-production benefitting both the countries, Arun Kumar Singh, India’s Ambassador to the United States, said. The relation, he said, has moved up the ladder in terms of defense technologies, under which New Delhi acquired technology from the U.S., to development of such technologies in India thanks to many niche areas of research and development now taking place in the country which is of interest to both Washington and New Delhi.

The ambassador was addressing leading members of the Indian American community and businesses from New Jersey on August 9th, the first such meeting after Singh took charge as India’s envoy to Washington in May this year. The event was organized by the Indian Consulate in New York in association with Parikh Worldwide Media, headed by Dr. Sudhir Parikh, and the business community of N.J.

Held at Renaissance Hotel in Iselin, the meeting was keynoted by Amb. Singh and addressed by Parikh who right at the outset set the tone for the interaction in his brief welcome address, noting that the world today has come a long way from the time of Rudyard Kipling who said “East is East, West is West. And the twain shall never meet.”

“One area that we have seen tremendous cooperation in the last four/five years is in terms of defense sector cooperation. So far, we have bought $10 billion worth of defense supplies from the U.S., more than what we have done from any other country. Some of the things we got from the U.S. during this period include — C-17, C-130 aircraft which were very useful to us,” he said.

“But we are now going beyond the buyer-seller relationship to also look at co-development and co-production. Under the leadership of Defense Secretary (Ashton) Carter we have worked out six pathfinder projects for cooperation in defense. Two have been already been finalized, and two are already making good progress. The other two will follow up. So, this is an indication of how we are moving away from just the initial stages of cooperation to now doing co-development of technologies,” the ambassador said.

“Obviously, Kipling didn’t have access. He was not connected. He was not wired. In this globalized Internet age, the twain shall meet, and the twain shall trade,” Parikh said. “This afternoon, we look forward to hearing the Ambassador’s views how this can be accomplished.”

In his address and a brief question and answer session, the Ambassador explained in detail why and how it was going to happen. “The U.S. leaders have said time and again that they see the rise of India in the U.S. interest, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has referred to this as a relationship between natural allies. It is from that perspective that we approach the bilateral relationship,” Singh said, adding that it’s a reflection of that sentiment that the two countries have seen tremendous increase in bilateral relationship.

Giving an example of India’s technology generation and optimization despite resource constraints, he said that last year India sent a space vehicle to Mars. “Today companies like Cisco and others say that they are going to export products developed by India to other countries and our Prime Minister has focused on manufacturing in India.

“Over the past one year, the rate of GDP has been more than seven percent and in the coming years it will approach eight percent. We saw a 30 percent increase in FDI in the past one year and a four hundred percent increase in FII. It’s a reflection of how efforts (for progress and development) are being made in India these days,” the ambassador said.

The ambassador told the gathering that a lot of the opportunities for doing business and making investments will open up in India in the coming years and asked entrepreneurs to take advantage of that. “We believe that in the coming years, there will be a lot of opportunities in the infrastructure sector because as we expand manufacturing, those constraints will see enhanced emphasis. There will be need for roads, telecom, and power for which investments will be needed. The government has also launched project for 100 smart cities and that again will provide opportunities for foreign investment for urban infrastructure in the next ten years or so,” he said.

“I believe that there will be opportunities for U.S. companies to make investments in India, and both countries could partner for mutual advantage,” the ambassador said, adding that another area of investment opportunity would be in renewable energy sector where India needs to grow at eight to ten percent over a sustained length of time.

He said as India grows it is important that through the policy of inclusive growth people are brought over the poverty line, and contributing to renewable energy will meet some of those concerns and goals. “So, you can see that there would be a tremendous opportunity for this sector for technology partnership. India will provide opportunity because the country has demand, democracy and demography,” he said, alluding to the fact that there are 600 million ‘technically-enriched’ people under the age of 25 who are in the working age, a demographic advantage compared to many other countries where the population is aging.

The event was attended among others by Consul General Dyaneshwar M. Mulay as well as H.R Shah, chairman of T.V. Asia, Ramesh Patel, chairman of Federation of Indian Association, Upendra Chivukula, former Assemblyman who is now chairman of Public Service, New Jersey and a host of businessmen and entrepreneurs, including Anil Bhatia, director Phillip Morris; Jay M. Shah, CEO of Hersh Hospitality Trust; Dipak Patel, CEO of Anna Management Corporation and Alpa Yagni, president, Wells Fargo.

Later in the evening Aug 9, Singh was feted by the Federation of Indian Associations in Royal Albert Palace in Ford, New Jersey, where over 340 members of the community from New Jersey and New York community came to greet him. While the FIA greeted the ambassador with a plaque, representatives of some 30 other community organizations that joined FIA in welcoming the visiting ambassador greet with bouquets.

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