Page 60 - IACC Newsletter August-September 2013 Issue 13

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This is my perspective, the perspective of one congressman. Afghanistan, post-2014 when most US troops are scheduled
to withdraw, is the one area where we, India and the US, need to come together. India has a critical role to play in this.
Afghanistan is heading for a second presidential election and there needs to be a successful transition there as Hamid
Karzai steps down. I was in Afghanistan a few months ago, talking to people there on the ground. President Karzai stated
he would not be running again.
India has large investments in Afghanistan and could help support an economy that will be badly hit as the US’s military
spending there declines. That investment will need security, however, and the US could still be in a position to
contribute to that.
That’s where I’d like to see the conversation between the two countries on this region go.
It would be in the interest of both India and the US that Afghanistan did not fall apart, that the whole thing did not fall
apart, after the US withdrawal.
It is in both countries’ interest that a stable Afghanistan did not unfold into chaos. To see America’s longest war effort
come to naught, this would have an impact on the American psyche as well. But the US public is fatigued, it is tired of
war.
On congressional complaints about India’s economic policies:
On the economic side, the complaints from the US Congress about India’s policies are because of US companies having
problems on intellectual property rights in India, problems on the transparency about how decisions are being made.
They are expressing their frustrations through their Congressmen, which is how our system works. I understand how
India would perceive this and my name is noticeably absent from these letters of protest. I think it is better to keep such
issues out of the political debate.
Indian companies have to also make their own case much better. They have to tell individual congressmen how Indian
investment is helping to create jobs in their specific districts. There is a need to educate US congressmen, expose them
to the opportunities that India offers them.
The information technology revolution of the past few decades has been driven by the Indian-American community. I’ve
been to Bangalore and seen the similarities in its start-up culture and entreneurship with that of Silicon Valley.
I want my colleagues in the Congress to see this – I’ve seen it, but it’s more important that they do. I don’t see our two
nations as competitors but rather collaborators.
On Indian IT firms complaints about the US immigration bill:
The legislative discussion around the present immigration reform bill is largely about border security and citizenship for
undocumented migrants. The Senate version of the bill has already been passed, but the House one is still pending.
Indian industry needs to make the case as to how many jobs they’ve contributed to the US economy.
The danger is that if the immigration issues that are troubling Indian firms become a political issue then resolution will
be much more difficult. It has become a political issue in India but there is no desire to do so in the US.
On Indian-Americans and bilateral ties:
The Indian-American community needs to have an issue to bring them together again. In my view, that issue to the
creation and strengthening of a real strategic partnership between India and the US. For example, the two should work
together on post-2014 Afghanistan. The US and India both work closely with Israel, it may be worthwhile to look at a
trilateral relationship of these three democracies.
India has an opportunity to be the anchor of stability in South Asia and become a key player in the US’s rebalance to Asia
policy. These are all elements of a strategic partnership, one where both sides are equals.