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Speech by Deputy Chief of Mission Arun K. Singh at US-India Business Summit West Building Bridges, Fostering Innovation April 26-27 2012 Menlo Park, CA


Thank you Ron for your very generous introduction.

I would also like to thank USIBC and FICCI for taking the initiative to organize this first India-US Business Summit in this part of the US; for putting together such a high level participation (several of those attending are iconic names in technology and India-US partnerships); and for focusing on the theme of technology and innovation partnership, which will have a major bearing on the content and dimensions of the future of our economic and strategic partnership.

2. USIBC has been in the forefront of advocacy for India and India-US relations. I would therefore particularly like to thank them for their continuing effort.

3. FICCI, on its part, has been taking several initiatives to foster the partnership; with a focus on economic and strategic cooperation; also through a meaningful exchange of political and economic ideas and assessments which impact on the overall atmosphere of the partnership; and is making its effort in different parts of this country. 

4. How effectively nations innovate today will determine how their economies are positioned globally tomorrow. With this in mind, innovation has been accorded primacy in India’s economic and policy efforts.

5. Innovation, it would follow, should be and has been emphasized in ongoing India-US discussions and bilateral cooperation arrangements.

6. The intensity and potential of our partnership for innovation will be impacted by, and in turn impact upon the political, economic and people-to-people dimension of our relationship.

7. Let me elaborate a little on all these aspects.

8. The President of India has declared the present decade as the ‘Decade of Innovation’ in India. Given the heterogeneity of the Indian economy, our need, and the goal, is to use innovation as an engine of economic growth; to create, as a World Bank report said, “new to the world” technologies and products, as also to spread the absorption of “new to the market” technologies, services and products. It is just not about creating millionaires; it is as much about spreading the fruits of development to millions of poor people who need it. We need it to bridge gaps in vital sectors such as agriculture, education, energy, health, skills, urban and rural development; to drive growth, competitiveness and employment opportunities for all our people. We want the innovation to be commercially viable but we also need it to be socially relevant.

9. In terms of specifics, India is working to create a complete framework that includes setting up of State and Sectoral Innovation Councils; Innovation Centers within industry specific clusters; a US$ 1 billion India Innovation Fund has been proposed that that will drive and catalyse enterprise, entrepreneurship, and venture capital, targeted at innovative solutions for the bottom of the pyramid. It will also be listed on India’s stock exchange. Overall work will be supervised by the National Innovation Council.

10. There is a general recognition that certain categories of niche R&D and  development work are  taking place in India, given India’s skilled manpower, and particular factor endowments and constraints. Several cost effective technologies have emerged from India including those such as speech synthesizer, solar powered ATM, mobile phone based banking, diagnostic equipment.

11. We also believe that in the overall framework of bilateral Strategic Partnership with the United States, technology and innovation partnerships offer opportunity for businesses on both sides. Innovation was in focus during President Obama’s visit to India in 2010. The President held an Entrepreneurs Roundtable with 21 young entrepreneurs on both sides showcasing their joint initiatives including in the fields of clean transport; solar power; clean drinking water and drug discovery.

12. In November 2010, President Obama and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had established the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC).  The Center committed US$ 25 million in funding by each side, with commitment for matching funds by consortia partners on both sides.  Earlier this month, both sides announced three consortia projects, in the fields of advanced bio fuels, energy efficiency in buildings and solar energy.  The projects bring together experts from national laboratories, universities, and industry in both India and the US to leverage their expertise and resources to work to unlock the huge potential of clean energy technologies.

13. In supporting the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit of both the nations, India and US have also established an India-US S&T Endowment Board & Fund of US$ 30 million from equal contribution for Joint Research and Development, Innovation, Entrepreneurial and Commercialization activities in Science and Technology. As a first step, three projects in two priority areas. ‘Healthy Individual’ and ‘Empowering Citizens Through Bridging Digital Divide’ are being finalized.

14. Further, under the auspices of Singh-Obama Knowledge Initiative for 21st Century, several institutional projects are under consideration for cooperation in the field of higher education.

15. As I mentioned earlier, the edifice of India-US relations derives its strength from three pillars: political, economic and people-to-people.

Political:

16. Going beyond purely commercial or private sector interests, governments are willing to encourage innovation based partnerships if they are confident in their relationship and are not constrained by adversarial concerns.  This clearly is the case in India-US relations. President Obama, during his visit to India, had said that the India-US partnership would be a defining partnership of the 21st century.  The Indian Prime Minister had said that India-US relations are better today than ever before but the best is yet to come.  Indian Prime Minister had been invited as the first State visitor of the Obama Administration. President Obama was the first US President after 32 years to visit India in his first term and he also endorsed India for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.  Secretary Clinton will be visiting India in early May and this would be followed by the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister to US in June for the third round of Strategic Dialogue.  India will exercise strategic autonomy in its decision making, and like the US, take decisions based on its own national interests. However, there is also growing convergence in dealing with terrorism, piracy and on several regional issues. This trend of convergence can only be reinforced as our companies become increasingly vested in each other including through technology and product development.

Economic:

17. Bilateral trade has been growing rapidly, has more than doubled over the past four years, and has reached a level of US$ 100 billion. It is broadly a balanced trade relationship. Investment efforts are also taking place in both directions. Over the last five years Indian companies have invested about 30 billion dollars in US economy.  Indian IT sector has contributed 15 billion dollars as taxes here over the same period, and about 3 billion dollars as social security contributions. The partnership for innovation will once again only strengthen these trends.

People-to-people:

18. Going beyond all this I feel the strongest element in our partnership is the people-to-people dimension.  There are now nearly 3 million Indian Americans in the US, a significant portion in the west coast and the Silicon Valley.  Around 100,000 Indian students in US Universities contribute 3 billion dollars annually as tuition fees. There are 60,000 Indian origin doctors in US. 40%of all hotel rooms are owned by Indian Americans.  Many India-US technology partnerships have been generated by people who went back from the US, having worked here for several years and setting up establishments in India.  And to add to all these we have made cooperation in education a thrust area.  First Higher Education Summit was held in October last year in Washington DC, the second will be held in June with a focus on cooperation not just among Universities but also in community colleges. Internet enabled collaboration, networked scientific collaboration are being consolidated; and all these will generate an ecosystem within which new trends will be created and seized.

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