USINPAC ED SAYS
'Indo-US economic cooperation very positive; military cooperation very
relations-both political and economic-is strengthening by the day. The economic cooperation is very positive with trade being at the highest
level and military cooperation is very high with joint exercises and other activities going on, says Mr. Sanjay Puri, Executive Director of US India Political
Action Committee (USINPAC), a leading political action committee for Indian Americans. USINPAC's mission, among others, is to
strengthen US-India bilateral relations in defense, trade, and business. In an wide-ranging interview- from Indo-Pak relations
to foreign investment in India- Mr. Puri told Amitabha Sen that "there is an awareness from both the people in the US and India recognizing that the two countries
share so much in common i.e. shared values: democracy, capitalism, rule of law and free markets."
you rate the Indo-US bilateral relations -both political and economic-being nurtured and developed by the Bush Administration
compared with his predecessors?
SP: The relationship is as
good as it has ever been from a Economic and political perspective.
Economic Cooperation is very positive with trade being at the highest
level, military cooperation is very high with joint exercises and other
activities going on and politically there is a lot going on with constant
group of visitors coming in from US i.e. political leaders who are
External Affairs policy has all along been considered by international
experts as balanced one. Do you find anything special that differentiates
the Vajpyee government from others in the past?
SP: I think the world has
changed and also there is an awareness from both the people in the US and
India recognizing that the two countries share so much in common i.e.
shared values: democracy, capitalism, rule of law, free markets so that
there is a general convergence in the two countries of peoples desire to
collaborate and work together and gain from each other economically and
AS: To what extent, you feel,
the Pakistan factor influences US bilateral policy for India? Any pulls or
strings from the White House that act as quid pro quo for expanding trade
and economic relations with India?
SP: So far the US policy has
always been to equate Pakistan with India but I think that is now
beginning to change with India and Pakistan getting de coupled and India's strategic relationship with US continuing to grow on the
economic and defence front. The relationship is bound to grow leaps and
bounds since there is so much to be gained by US sharing in India's
economic growth and India sharing in US expertise and markets in
technology and defence and also India asserting itself regionally.
weeks back, at a seminar in New Delhi former Pak Prime Minister, Ms
Benazir Bhutto in the perspective of strained Indo-Pak relations said that
proper 'conflict management' can ensure better trade and economic
relations to grow pending major political issues. Do you think the US
follows the same principle in its foreign policy towards India and in some
cases occasionally shows softer policy towards Pakistan while considering
financial aids despite knowing the fact the terrorism is flourishing in
some parts of that country (recent attacks on Pak President at short
intervals vindicated India's allegation, not to talk about attacks on
has been a strategic ally of the United States in the war on terror. Due
to its location and other factors it is very important for the US to have
a strong and democratic Pakistan in this region and that is also the case
for India to have a strong and democratic Pakistan. The financial aid to
Pakistan is partly a reward for its support on the war on terror and also
to placate the Pakistani people that they got something out of the issue
of changing their Policy towards Taliban 360 degrees.
is USINPAC's stand on Indian industry's getting a fair share in Iraq
reconstruction activities? Did you ever take it up with the Bush
Administration? If so, What's the Administration's response?
USINIPAC works on issues that are important to the Indian American
Community and USINPAC has worked hard to see how the Indian American
community can get a pie of the reconstruction of Iraq and you will see our
has tried to see how the Indian American community participate in the
reconstruction of Iraq. We had a major reception for the Chairman of the
Small Business Committee and other members of Congress who had just come
back from Iraq and how the Indian American community could participate in
the reconstruction. We are following it up with other individual meetings.
you identify the areas that offer greater scope for Indian companies to
expand and invest more in the US?
SP: USINPAC is a Political
Action Committee that works on issues that are important to Indian
American and obviously two way trade is an issue that we care about so we
would say that Health Care area i.e. hospitals, entertainment, Human
Resources and Financial Services firms.
a decade of speed and momentum, India's economic reforms have somewhat
slowed down due to variety of reasons including political outcries among
the ruling allies and opposition on privatizing public sector units. To
what extent this has affected the sentiments of the US companies or
companies controlled by Indian Americans who would like to enter Indian
market and which are the areas that offers vast scope for US investments?
part of the USINPAC trade and policy area we strongly believe that
privatisation is good for the economy, the US is the best example and you
can see it in India by the experience you have in travelling by Jet
Airways vs Indian Airlines.
Obviously the more the Indian Public Sector units
privatise, the more they are going to see investments from Foreign
Director investments and other collaborations and also transfer of
technology and better economic relationships with US and other countries,
but obviously a country as large as Indian needs time to make these major
USINPAC consider privatization of even profit-making Indian PSUs a right
policy? Do your organisation think that the public sector concept should
be abolished totally? If not, which are the areas, you think, should be
under state control?
SP: Those are decisions to be
made by the Indian Government and USINPAC does not have any policy
positions on this.
Financial sector, Healthcare, Civil Aviation are some of the most
potential sectors that are gradually opening up for private sector and
foreign investments in India. What is the prospect of US investment in
We think they are excellent since the US is a leader in many of
Technology is gradually becoming India's signature tune as it seeks to
consolidate its position as an IT super power in the world. Will you throw
some light on the possible expansion of Indo-US IT collaboration?
SP: This relationship will
continue to expand especially as the economy expands and also since India
is now not only considered a destination for cheap labor but for quality
is USINPAC's stand on Outsourcing to India? To what extent USINPAC can help Indian firms including small and
medium IT companies, in this respect?
As mentioned to you before we focus on issues that are important to
Indian Americans and this is an economic issue that needs to be dealt with
by the large companies that are currently outsourcing work globally and
Indian happens to be one of the destinations they are using to stay
competitive in this global marketplace.
but not least. Despite country's political stability, a very strong
foundation of Democracy, investor-friendly policy and approach of the
Indian government, the flow of foreign direct investment from different
countries including the US into India is significantly lower than China.
For example, the size and growth of the US investments in China are no
match for what have been invested in India? What is the primary reason for
such huge gap between the countries and what is the USINPAC prescription
for both the US and Indian governments to boost it up sizably in coming
Trade needs to be both
ways and since the Indian economy is growing they need to do more to open up to opportunities for US firms (small/medium) in many areas that they
have expertise: environmental solutions, technology, health care etc. Also, US should consider participating in the
Defence sector in India which is one of the largest in the World.