The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) today launched its first Annual West Coast Summit, featuring the USIBC Chairman John Chambers CEO of the National Institution of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, Amitabh Kant; CEO of Adobe Shantanu Narayen; USIBC President Dr. Mukesh Aghi; Varsha Rao, Head of Global Operations, Airbnb; and Joseph DiSimone, CEO of Carbon, among others.
The summit comes on the heels of the historic visit to the Silicon Valley undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015, where Silicon Valley entrepreneurs had highlighted the importance of US-India bilateral ties in the technology corridor.
The summit, entitled the U.S.-India Technology Partnership: Using Scale and Speed to Bridge the Divide, examined how the U.S.-India business corridor is uniquely poised to build the digital future of the global economy. Amitabh Kant, the newly appointed CEO of the National Institution of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, proposed ways in which the Government of India and industry can coordinate efforts to ensure the success of programs such as Digital India, Start up India, Skill India, Financial Inclusion and Make in India.
USIBC Chairman John Chambers remained optimistic on India’s prospects for growth despite strong global headwinds and said, “With the Prime Minister’s extraordinary vision and leadership, India stands out as a force for change. The country also has someone as dynamic as Mr. Kant to lead the policy efforts of the Prime Minister. There’s a reason why Cisco is investing $100 million in India the next few years; it is representative of what we think is an opportunity to build the next generation of innovative solutions, talent, and products for the digital economy.”
In a lively discussion between John Chambers and Amitabh Kant, the latter was applauded for his action-oriented governance and being the key figure for breathing life in to Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Digital India, Make in India and Skill India. Mr. Kant said that India’s future would lie in how successfully the country is able to provide universal access for all citizens as well as improve the quality of education across all levels. Mr. Kant also highlighted that dismantling a heavy bureaucracy, fostering healthy and competitive environment continues to be the mandate for Prime Minister Modi’s government.
Mr. Kant was also awarded the “USIBC Transformative Leadership Award”— an honor that has been instituted by the Council to acknowledge excellence in public service and recognize the honoree’s achievement in championing U.S.-India ties in the areas of trade, politics and culture.
Congratulating Mr. Kant on being the first recipient of the award, Mukesh Aghi, President of the USIBC, said, “Amitabh has been the key player in promoting ease of doing business in India and unlocking the potential of some vital initiatives such as Make in India, Start up India and the simplification of the permitting process. His branding ideas such as Incredible India and God’s Own Country have put India on the global map. Under his stewardship, FDI flow to India has risen 37%. There couldn’t be a more deserving candidate than Amitabh to receive this award.”
The summit included a panel discussion on “Delivering on Digital India and the Role of Innovative Technology”. The panel featured cutting edge firms in the technology space, headquartered in Silicon Valley, including Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Operations, John Kern of Cisco; Senior Vice President Sundar Kamath of Sanmina Sci; Varsha Rao, Head of Global Operations Airbnb; and Carbon CEO Joseph DiSimone.
Commenting on the panel discussion and the promise of Digital India, Kailesh Karavadra, Managing Partner at EY, said, “This outstanding group of speakers has incomparable domain knowledge of the digital ecosystem as well as trends and disruptions that will emerge both in the short-term and long-term. Businesses, governments and policy-makers obviously have to respond to these changing scenarios and seize the upside. It is promising to see that India is now central to the innovation ecosystem with its educated and entrepreneurial population. Silicon Valley can play a deeper role in India’s transformation. So this discussion is timely and imperative.”
With a major transition set to take place in the U.S. government next year, the 45th U.S. President will face a multitude of opportunities and challenges with regard to U.S.-India bilateral ties. The summit featured a panel on the priorities for the next President with former Undersecretary of Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, and the Consul General of San Francisco, Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok. Nicholas Burns stated that there is bipartisan consensus at the political and policy level that makes the potential for U.S.-India relations limitless.
Attending companies at the summit included leaders from Adobe, LinkedIn, Flex, Varian Medical, Global Logic, Goldman Sachs, Gilead, Etihad Airways and Sanmina.