Companies Commit

Visitors seen arriving at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at the Hyderabad Convention Center in Hyderabad on Nov. 28, 2017. Mukesh Aghi, Indian American president of USISPF, said representatives of around 45 American companies met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the summit. (Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — Representatives of around 45 American companies met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at this year's Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad and expressed their commitment to continue investing in India, a top Indian American business leader has said.

These representatives were part of a delegation of the U.S. India Strategic Partnership Forum, a newly-established non-profit organization focused on deepening business relations between the U.S. and India and enhancing the strategic relationship between the two countries.

"I can't talk about the specifics because it was off the record. But basically, the companies did meet with the prime minister and they showed their commitment to continued investment into India," USISPF president Mukesh Aghi told IANS in an interview.

The U.S. looks at building its relationship with India on two broad principles. "One principle is that economic prosperity of India is good for America. And the second principle is a militarily strong India is good for regional stability," Aghi said.

If India became economically more prosperous and there was more disposable income, people would tend to buy more U.S. goods, or send more of their kids for education to the U.S., he said.

"If you look at this year, the enrollment of Indian students in the U.S. went up by 12 percent. So, we have 186,000 Indian students in the U.S.," he stated.

"That's one. Two, if you look at companies like Amazon, look at Uber, look at WhatsApp or Google, you know they have a tremendous market share in the Indian market. Their businesses grow because consumer spending is growing in India because of economic prosperity."

On the defense side, Aghi said that if India became more prosperous, it would spend more money on defense.

"If you look at the last three years, the procurement with India has gone up to $15 billion," he said.

"We are talking Make in India also from the manufacturing perspective of defense equipment. So, I think those principles are driving this relationship."

On the current business environment in India, Aghi referred to the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings, which saw India jump from the 130th rank to 100th.

"When this government came in 2014, India's ranking was 142. And now it has come to 100. I think that is a positive sign and we will keep on urging the government to go to below 50. That should be the ambition," he stated.

About the economic reforms being undertaken by the Indian government, he said these have been certified by Moody's credit rating agency, which has upgraded India's sovereign rating to Baa2 from its lowest investment grade of Baa after 14 long years.

"What the government is doing is the right stuff – which seems to send a strong message to investors also. Moody's ranking is a positive sign, very positive," he said.

On what the key takeaways were for the USISPF from this year's GES, the theme of which was "Women First, Priority for All," Aghi said: "I think the number one takeaway is that start-ups and entrepreneurship are important for job creation. That's what India needs."

He also stressed the involvement and engagement of women entrepreneurs and women workers for the growth of GDP and economy. 

"You know, a McKinsey report shows that by 2025, if you engage more women workers, it will have an impact of $12 trillion on the global economy," the USISPF president said.

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