California eyes partnering India to create economic growth: US official

The US state of California wants to build robust partnership with India to create inclusive and sustainable economic growth, a top US official has said.

California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis made the comments on Monday as she landed in New Delhi as part of a high-powered delegation led by the Bay Area Council.

The delegation is in India from January 14-18 for the Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship global conference on geopolitics and geo-economics.

As California’s representative for International Affairs and Trade Development, I am pleased to help lay the foundation to build robust, ongoing engagement with our international partners, Kounalakis said.

California and India share much in common. Together, we will build on our partnership to create inclusive and sustainable economic growth, Kounalakis, who would also be addressing the Raisina Dialogue, said.

The delegation is scheduled to hold briefings and meetings with various business, government and academic leaders on a wide range of topics, including technology, energy, manufacturing, media and entertainment and tourism.

The visit builds on a report- The Bay Area-Silicon Valley and India: Convergence and Alignment in the Innovation Age- the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released last June that examined the relationship between India and the Bay Area, the long history of Indian contributions to the region’s innovation economy and fast-emerging investments that the companies in the area are making in India.

M R Rangaswami a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and head of Indiaspora, said the quarter million Indian Americans living in Bay Area, predominantly from the IT sector, forms the bridge between this part of the US and India.

Observing that India is going through economic challenges, he hoped that Indian diaspora based in Bay Area can play a role in helping India get back on its economic track.

The Indian diaspora in the Bay Area is so active there’s also a pretty strong and increasingly stronger investment ties for entrepreneurs in India, said Kausik Rajgopal from McKinsey, a member of the delegation.

So venture capital firms, growth equity firms that look to not just the more established IT players and technology players, obviously that’s a big part of the potential relationship and existing relationship, but also entrepreneurs and India can benefit from the funding that that the investors in the Bay area many of whom are part of Indian diaspora will provide and help nourish and grow the economy, he said.

Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman said that no other region in the US is more deeply connected to India than the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Bay Area.

The deep roots of the Indian community in our region are unique, and so are the links through innovation and technology, where the Bay Area’s capacities in IT, life science, clean energy, smart cities and a range of other fields where India’s needs and strengths are complementary, he said.

We see this trip as an opportunity to build on India’s recent economic reforms and initiatives to strengthen those ties further,” Wunderman said.

According to the report which will be released in New Delhi on Wednesday, India’s trade with the Bay Area and California, as it is with the US, is dominated by services. Most of that is IT, but travel is also important, with 352,000 Indians visiting California in 2018. That number is expected to grow to 443,000 by 2021. Investment from the Bay Area and California to India is led by the software sector.

It also comes on the heels of meetings the Bay Area Council convened last year with Indian Ambassador to the United States Harsh Shringla and Indian Consul General in San Francisco Sanjay Panda to advance greater cooperation.

The stewardship of Governor Gavin Newsom of the Golden State of California, a leader in the United States in industries such as agriculture, pharmaceutical, finance, information technology, aerospace, film and entertainment and tourism, can help realize the untapped potential of bilateral cooperation, Shringla said in a letter introducing the report.

California is known world-wide for its innovative and important technology firms such as Apple, Facebook, Oracle and Google. Many of these firms have research centres in India and find a huge market and user base there as well. India’s skilled engineers power these Silicon Valley giants and also contribute to the start-up ecosystem of the Valley, Shringla had then said.

Sanjay Panda, Consul General of India in San Francisco, said, we are now on the threshold of a qualitative transformation in our bilateral engagement, and California has that special X-factor to fast track this process.

The growing connections between the Bay Area-Silicon Valley and India were highlighted recently when United Airlines launched new non-stop flight service from San Francisco to New Delhi.

As the only US airline with non-stop flights to Delhi from the West Coast, United provides convenient access to these key markets and, more importantly, a foundation for new trade, investment and economic prosperity, the airline’s California President Janet Lamkin said.

Among the delegates joining the trip are Gary Meltzer, Managing Partner of PwC, Winsome Bowen of Facebook, Anurag Varma of Infosys, SynBioBeta CEO John Cumbers, Joydeep Ganguly of Gilead Sciences, Bijal Patel of the California Hotel and Lodging Association, Harshul Asnani of Tech Mahindra and Kausik Rajgopal of McKinsey & Co.

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Updated: January 14, 2020 — 8:16 pm

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