Namaste. As-salaam-alaikum. Good evening. I’m going to take a page from my Africa experience tonight and say “all protocols observed.” This is a phrase that they use in Africa when they are afraid that if they go through the list of all the people they should recognize, someone will be left out. So let me say to all of you who have come tonight, a very special thank you for your attendance, for your interest in U.S.-India friendship, and to thank you and acknowledge your presence.
And to our three sponsors tonight, let me say that as a practical Midwestern American, I appreciate the time savings that we are doing tonight, because I have had a very busy day. I would only have been able to do one event, and for your three organizations to come together is a real help to me to be able to meet a broader cross-section of India and American action here in Mumbai. So let me say a special thank you to all three of you for working together to make this opportunity possible for me to have a chance to meet other members of your organizations and to hear from you. I’m going to talk a little bit, but I’m also going to try to leave some time before I head for the airport to have a chance to hear from you and I look very much forward to that.
This week is my one year anniversary of being back to India. [Applause] I obviously have had a very busy year as I look back. I think we’ll talk a little bit about some of the aspects. But I wanted to talk just a minute about the three general areas where we have been working as the U.S. government with our Indian friends, both in government and outside government. The first area is one that I call enhancing what is already a much broader and deeper bilateral relationship than when I left in 1995. I occasionally have to just sit back and wonder and look at what has happened to the relations that I remember. The many new areas we are involved in, the depth of that understanding and that friendship, both of which have expanded enormously since 1995. A tribute to all of you, to your American counterparts as well, and to be able to recognize how much we have been able to accomplish.
I put a special emphasis in my discussions, my activities, on trying to expand the commercial and business part of the relationship. I’m going to talk about that more formally in just a minute, and to share with you some of the things that we are doing.
The second area that we’ve worked on is to recognize India’s growing role in the world, in the region, and to see how we as the United States can work with India to enhance that role, to work together on a variety of global problems and issues, and to continue to look for ways to prosper for both of our governments. I’m going to highlight one of them because I would like to get you to volunteer to help me.
Last June your Health Minister, the Ethiopian Health Minister, and our Secretary of Health and Human Services and our USAID Director/Administrator announced a global call to action. Our three countries asked for all of the countries of the world to work on child survival. To ensure that every single child in the world has a very good chance to make it to age five. If you can make it to five, you usually make it to 65, but those first five years are very difficult in many places in the world, including some parts of India. So we have been working with the government here on the global part as well as the national program. We’re hoping that companies that are doing business with America, the Indian companies, will take a role in this, working with private NGOs, with the government in your local areas, and find ways that you can work on safe water, on the safe delivery of babies. It turns out in India one of the big problems is the first five days of life. Not the first five years, but those first five days. So please look at ways that you can partner in your local communities in Mumbai to help on this.
The third area is one that has many aspects to it. It is the security area. Both of our countries have been the targets of terrorism. We know the pain that has been caused by terrorism. We have been working together on efforts to look at ways that we can counter those terrorists globally and locally.
We are also looking at our defense relationship under this big broad band of activities. I’m very pleased to report that what was a very limited activity when I was here in 1993 to 1995 it is now a very robust area of discussion. We are doing exercises together and we are working at growing our defense trade.
When Secretary of Defense Panetta was here last summer he asked his Deputy to take on an extra special duty of looking at the defense trade and what the United States, first of all all by itself could do to eliminate some of the restrictions that we had on trade with India in the defense field; and then for both countries to explore opportunities to look at our acquisition systems. It turns out both of us have incredibly complex acquisitions and sales systems. So we’ve been working on that. We’re going to be looking at ways, whether there are things that we could co-produce, and expand that band of our relationship as well.
But I think an audience such as we have tonight; you already know the value of our friendship. You know the value of working together, whether you are in the business community, in the tourism industry, or if you are in academia, that our person-to-person relations have been the key. It’s those relationships between the people of the United States and the people of India that have really sparked all of this cooperation. As I look back and think about the 20 years since I came in 1992 to take up my post in Calcutta, the GDP has grown ten times. That is a tribute to the entrepreneurship, the friendship with many countries around the world. But it has also been the result of our work together, whether it’s developing some of the world’s leading multinational corporations who are creating innovative goods and services, but it’s also the models of business that you have brought to our relationship.
The Indian market continues to open and integrate more fully with the global economy, I think and I am not alone in this. People from the American business community are voting with their feet and their dollars. There’s going to be an even brighter future. I think that will continue thanks to the efforts of many of you and your counterparts.
There is a study from Price Waterhouse Coopers that predicts the Indian economy will more than quadruple by 2030, to nearly eight trillion, making it the third largest in the world. That presents some enormous opportunities for U.S. business, for our cooperation between Indian and American businesses.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that there were some challenges. I think all of you see them on a day-to-day basis. There are multiple quarters of slowing GDP growth and the stalling of the investment cycle. That I think is a call to action on the part of economic leaders in India, in the global world, and we hope that India will not be complacent about some of these problems, but rather take them on.
The weak global economic conditions have had an impact on India and on the United States as well. However, much of the problems that we see are within India’s power to resolve. The slow pace of approvals when new businesses want to start, combined with government decisions and policies that exacerbate uncertainties in treatment, and mixed messages for investors are a problem for our American companies. Also we look at the local manufacturing policies that disrupt global supply networks. How do we deal with those in a world that is becoming more and more global? Uneven IPR enforcement efforts also hurt innovation and affect not only the foreign pharmaceutical businesses but also India’s own economic growth prospects.
The news of recent economic reforms is hopeful and I believe are part of a continuing effort to address some of these issues. Passing legislation and considering further increase in the caps on foreign direct investment as has been proposed by the Indian government will send an encouraging signal to businesses, particularly in America, and we hope that these efforts will succeed.
India also faces some enormous restraints, particularly in terms of infrastructure. The current estimate suggests that 80 percent of the infrastructure required to sustain and support India for that 2030 goal has yet to be built. It has to be designed, financing has to be found, and all of these things, in my opinion, present some opportunities as well.
The United States is home to some of the world’s most competitive road, bridge, water supply, electrical grid and telecommunications companies in the world. Here in Mumbai, U.S. companies have supplied technology and engineering, procurement and construction services, for building the new international airport. The U.S. Trade Development Agency recently authorized several grants to improve Indian airport safety, and recent visits by U.S. Governors of several states have ushered in millions of dollars of trade and investment. A U.S. company that has worked with Reliance Industries has developed the first deep water gas field in the Bay of Bengal. So there are plenty of opportunities, despite some of the challenges.
India is also partnering with the United States on energy and climate change. This is an area that is particularly of interest to our new Secretary of State. We anticipate that he’s going to be coming to India in the future and I know that this is an area where he is going to be looking at what Americans and Indians are doing together.
The U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy which was initiated in 2009 has mobilized more than 1.7 billion dollars in public and private resources for clean energy projects in India. U.S. companies have installed 40 percent of India’s first 1,000 megawatts of solar capacity.
Our governments are striving to match the ambition of our peoples, our universities and our businesses. For example, as I’m flying back tonight our Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, is arriving in New Delhi. He’s going to be the first of many senior high level visitors this year. He’s coming here for the Clean Energy Ministerial which will take place starting on Wednesday in New Delhi. His visit continues our commitment to provide innovative solutions for clean power generation in India.
U.S. collaboration with India in areas like defense, energy, financial services, and infrastructure will benefit India’s economy and further advance India’s ability to play a more important role in the South Asian region and around the globe. Companies like yours are the engines for this economic growth. This connectivity between India and the United States means better jobs, better opportunities and better standards of living for the citizens in both of our countries. I think that’s a very important thing to keep in mind. It is a benefit to both of our peoples.
As a country committed to enduring peace and security in the Asia Pacific region, India needs and deserves the best military equipment available. The United States is prepared to help. As I said, we have several new initiatives and we want to help India to secure the highest quality and most trusted supplies of defense technology and we think, rightly so, they’re American. And we are working very hard on that.
Several Indian companies like the Tata Group are already collaborating with U.S. defense contractors -- Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky -- to manufacture products under license in India. We know that India has security challenges that are very real. Working with U.S. suppliers benefits India through the sharing of technology and technical know-how, enhanced Indian production capacity, and of course increased internal security.
Another cornerstone of keeping both of our economies healthy and growing is our mutual desire to have the best possible education systems. U.S.-Indian collaboration in the sphere of education is growing quickly. We are proud that more than 100,000 Indians study in the United States every year, second only to China in terms of our foreign students.
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently noted a surge in Indian applications to graduate research programs in the United States. But we would like to do much more. Currently we are collaborating on how India might benefit from our experience with the community college model as educational engines for growth. President Obama and Prime Minister Singh launched a Knowledge Initiative for the 21st Century in 2010. We also have a program called Passport to India to provide internship opportunities for young Americans in India. Finally, the bilateral Fulbright-Nehru Scholar Program is the largest of its kind in the world. I still have trouble with this one because when I was here before this was called the U.S. Education Foundation in India, USEFI. It’s now called the U.S.-India Education Foundation. In a capsule that says a lot about what’s happened to our relationship. We are working together. We’re not just in India; we’re together here and in the United States.
I can tell you that the U.S.-India relationship from commercial ties to defense exercise and our growing education partnerships has never been stronger. Washington and New Delhi together serve as catalysts for growth and for innovation. Our government efforts can only go so far. We continue to rely on your ideas, your ingenuity, your creativity for the good of both of our countries.
I want to wish you all success in your endeavors, and I look forward to having an opportunity to see you tonight.
Thank you very very much.