Approval process time-consuming
IT companies need to invest in communities they work in
INDIA has to recognize that China has taken
steps to make it a more attractive investment destination,
and also been able to provide the requisite infrastructure,
said Sanjay Puri, Chairman of the Alliance for US-India
Business (AUSB) formerly known as US India Business
Alliance (USIBA). In an interview with Amitabha Sen
he said in certain sectors, the FDI policy is still restrictive,
but more pertinently, the process of approvals for projects
and investment is time-consuming and resource-intensive. The
institutional process that implements new policy directives
– is an area that the Indian government might continue to
on the issue of Outsourcing Puri who is also the Chairman
of the US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) -- the
largest and powerful platform of Indian Americans – said that
companies will source products or services where they find
the best quality at an affordable price. Indian IT companies
still get 60 percent of their revenues from the US. These
companies need to start investing in the communities that
they work in.
of the interview
With the change of guard at White House to which area you and the
Indian Americans as a whole think the Obama Administration would
be giving top most priority and importance in respect of US-India
Yes, it is likely that the Obama Administration will continue to
give the US relationship with India a top priority, and examine
all aspects of the relationship for areas to improve. After Mumbai,
it is indeed likely that discussion on areas of collaboration in
homeland security and counter-terrorism will improve.
Some top leaders in a recent meetings of the National Federation
of Indian-American Associations have urged Barack Obama to visit
India first when he makes his maiden overseas visit because it would
send a powerful message to the entire world. Do you subscribe to
Yes, it would be a message in one manner, but the President and
the new Administration will probably weight regions of the world
carefully before deciding. We must not forget that the Middle East
and the possibility of renewed stand-offs with Russia are exigent
concerns for the US.
There is no denying the fact that for any country to grow and prosper
it needs to have good, peace-loving and friendly neighbors. India’s
peace process is intermittently punctuated by the Jammu and Kashmir
issue and for last two/three years also by terrorist activities
allegedly being generated from the neighbouring countries. As a
big brother in South Asia India has a special responsibility to
maintain peace and harmony. India is discharging its responsibilities
even in extreme cases like Parliament attack or serial terror attacks
in Mumbai. But if India’s persuasive policy is taken as country’s’
weakness what action do you think India should take if such acts
are allowed to continue? How Obama Administration can help India
resolve this critical issue?
India will decide for itself in the context of domestic priorities
and concerns what its best course of action should be. The world
community should recognize that India, as a democratic country,
has a range of options that are governed by these priorities. To
that end, the US and the West can recognize that India’s options
could shrink in the event of another attack that demonstrably originated
from within Pakistan.
US can press Pakistan for greater accountability in closing all
terror camps inside Pakistani territory and in the US of money provided
by the US.
Do you foresee any major policy shift in the Obama Administration
towards India from that of the Bush Administration?
Too early to tell, but no major changes are expected.
While talking about US-India relationships an obvious reference
is made to the civil nuclear cooperation agreement that both the
countries have signed few months back. How would you like to describe
this courageous steps taken by India, its Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in particular?
The Opposition, the Left in particular, still maintains that India’s
sovereignty is jeopardized because of this agreement. Your comment
The Indian government, and PM Singh in particular, risked their
political survival on this deal, which has the potential to provide
expanded access to sources of energy that were not available on
the world market for India. Many experts in India, who are more
qualified to assess the impact of the deal on India’s sovereignty,
have asserted that the deal does NOT intrude in any areas pertaining
to the exercise of sovereignty.
One of the significant achievements in the India-US bilateral relations
is growing merchandize trade which increased to $ 42 billion in
2007 and according to estimate made before the current financial
melt-down bilateral trade is expected to touch $60-billion-mark
in 2008. Till September, 2008 trade between the two countries stood
at over $ 34 billion. The long term estimate projects it at $100
billion in next three-four years. But lot many things would depend
on the final outcome of WTO negotiations. Indo-US trade is about
one tenth of China-US trade. As Chairman of USIBA what would be
your suggestion to increase the US-India trade vis-à-vis
that with China.
The two should not be compared at this stage. India also has to
recognize that China has taken steps to make it a more attractive
investment destination, and also been able to provide the requisite
infrastructure. India will get there, but the responsibility to
scale up India’s participation in global markets, is shared by India
and its trading partners such as the US.
In next few months India will also have a new government with general
elections in early 2009. With a new President in the US and a new
government in Delhi (without predicting who would win the race),
do you think that both the government have to start a fresh dialogue
on WTO issues? What is your assessment?
Again, too early to say.
WTO talks apart, what could be your suggestions to facilitate bilateral
trade between these two countries in near term perspectives? At
the United States India Business Council’s annual meet this year
Mrs Indra Nooyi, the current Chairman has spoken about huge potential
of Indo-US trade volume and closely linked with that is the question
of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that she dealt with. Indian market
is gradually unfolding since its economic reforms in early 90s which
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had initiated as the then Finance
Minister . Do you find India’s FDI policy still quite restrictive?
What you would be expecting from the Indian government to step up
FDI from the US?
In certain sectors, the FDI policy is still restrictive, but more
pertinently, the process of approvals for projects and investment
is time-consuming and resource-intensive. The institutional process
that implements new policy directives – is an area that the GoI
might continue to examine closely.
A major issue that is going to significantly impact US-India trade
relations is outsourcing. What is your personal stand on this sensitive
issue and what you would be expecting from the Obama Administration?
The US and India must continue to evolve a win-win economic relationship
that preserves the optimum amount of economic activity in both countries.
Companies will source products or services where they find the best
quality at an affordable price. Indian IT companies still get 60%
of their revenues from the US. These companies need to start investing
in the communities that they work in and pay attention to what the
Japanese did in the 80’s. Members of Congress were throwing Japanese
TV’s on the steps of Capitol Hill and now Japanese companies are
the darling of the Members of Congress since they invested in plants
and facilities in US regions like South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama
and created local jobs too.
Last but not least, what are the significant changes you would be
expecting in the US-India relationships in next four years from
now-- in the first spell of Barack Obama as the US President?
The likelihood is that the US-India relationship will continue to
mature, deepen and widen (as the institutions start to trust each