A bipartisan group of American state governors and top officials have vouched for strong bilateral ties with India and pitched for investment from the Indian corporate sector who they said not only brings foreign direct investment but also skills and creates local jobs in the US. Governors Tom Wolf from Pennsylvania and Asa Hutchinson from Arkansas along with Lt Governors Garlin Gilchrist from Michigan, and Eleni Kounalakis from California made an aggressive pitch before a group of more than 100 Indian businesses travelling to the US to attend the annual Select USA Investment Summit in the American Capital.
In their remarks at a reception hosted at the popular India House by India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, these top State level elected officials asserted that Indian businesses add value to their state economy, bring in new skill sets and most important of all create most sought-after jobs. According to a 2020 survey by the Confederation of Indian Industries, more than 155 Indian companies have invested USD 22 billion.
Referring to the unicorns appearing in India almost every week, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf told the audience that India is “a dynamic nation, and it’s a sleeping giant.” The Republican governor said that he is proud to have maintained his admiration and friendship with India through all these years.Governor Hutchinson from Arkansas, who is from the Democratic party, asserted that the India-US relationship enjoys bipartisan support.“This really illustrates he’s a Democrat, I’m a Republican… We all in a bipartisan way support our relationship with India. I think that speaks well of our National Governors Association that we work together, we promote our states, that we promote the relationship that we have with our allies such as India,” said Hutchinson.He travelled to India in 2019.Arkansas, he said, has benefited from “great foreign direct investment coming” from Indian companies, including Welspun Mahindra Group, Infosys, TCS and Wipro employing several thousand people from Arkansas.
Just last year, Wipro announced that they will build a new large-scale service centre employing 400 Arkansans.“So we value the great investments that are made. Tata Consulting Services (TCS) is another example of an Indian firm investing in their business in Arkansas and also in students promoting STEM education in our state,” he said.STEM stands for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.Lt Gov Gilchrist said that Michigan is already home to a number of influential Indian-American companies, including Mahindra, Tata Group, and Wipro.
“We are grateful for the continued partnership and investment of Indian businesses and the community in Michigan, where they enjoy not only a strong business climate but also a cost of living that is 10 per cent more affordable than the national average, a highly skilled and loyal workforce and an incredible quality of life that my counterparts will appreciate you saying is unmatched across the United States of America,” he said.“I encourage all of those here today to continue to reach out and work with us in Michigan, in my Michigan Economic Development Corporation to continue to grow economic opportunities that will benefit both our State, this country and the nation of India,” he said.
“Opportunity certainly awaits all of you in Michigan for all of your ideas and imagination. …Michigan also happens to be home to a very vibrant Indian American community. It actually is the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in our State. We are very proud of this distinction,” Gilchrist said.
Lt Gov Eleni Kounalakis from California, the fifth-largest economy in the world if this was a country, exuded confidence that the relationship between California and India will continue to grow.“Why am I so confident? First, because more Indian Americans live in California than in any other state. In places like Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Silicon Valley, where they make up 6.4 per cent of the population in the San Jose Sunnyvale Santa Clara census tract. This is the highest percentage anywhere in the United States,” she said.
“Second, I’m confident that this relationship will continue to grow because total trade between California and India continues to grow in spite of the pandemic. Before COVID-19 trade between our sub-national government and the country of India was over USD10 billion and in 2021, it amounted to USD12.5 billion,” she said.
“Finally, Indian investment in California continues to thrive, with nearly 300 Indian-owned firms operating in our state, employing more than 8,000 people and generating more than USD980 million every year in wages,” she said.“So, in short from the Golden Gate to India Gate, the ties between California and India are strong and are growing stronger, be they between Hollywood and Bollywood or Silicon Valley and Bangalore. So, as lieutenant governor,… I cherish the strong ties of friendship, and I look forward to a brighter and more collaborative future for all,” she said.
Welcoming the top governors, Lt Governors and other top officials from the US Government, Sandhu, underlined that Indian companies in the United States “bring strength, resilience, competitiveness” to the United States. They create jobs in local communities and build capacity and technical know-how.
“In my travels, I’m amazed to see what our companies have done from the neighbourhood and to partner with schools and universities. In my recent visits to Indianapolis, Chicago and San Antonia, I have seen firsthand what contribution they are bringing,” Sandhu said. India, he said, has accelerated the speed and scale of economic reforms, making India an excellent place to do business, hire talent and manufacture for the world.
Arun Venkataraman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service said that India’s FDI in the United States is over USD12.7 billion and that has created over 70,000 jobs in the United States.“It is self-evident that India is an important commercial partner… We are partners bound by shared values, by rule of law, by a commitment to democracy and as a diaspora that is stubborn enough to refuse to let this relationship backtrack one step. We are proud to be here to keep this relationship on track and to ensure that the commercial side underpins what is already a critical and long-standing strategic partnership,” Venkataraman said.Jasjit Singh is the Executive Director of SelectUSA, this year Indian delegation of 138 delegates is the second-biggest delegation by all standards of Select USA Investment Summit.