Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna Hosts Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill

Feb 14, 2017 0

Washington, DC–Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna hosted a Congressional Reception at the Capitol “to celebrate India’s engagement with the 115th US Congress” on Tuesday.

Addressing an impressive gathering of members of Congress, prominent Indian-Americans, congressional staffers, business representatives and media, Ambassador described the upcoming visit of 27 distinguished members of Congress as a very important milestone and demonstrative of the high degree of interest in India, and the strong bipartisan support for the India-US relationship, based on shared democratic values and converging strategic interests. He looked forward to a more robust economic and commercial cooperation as India retains its spot as the fastest growing major economy.

Congressman Steny Hoyer, House Democratic Whip echoed the bipartisan support for the India relationship and emphasized cooperation on security issues between the two largest democracies. Congressman Pete Olson spoke glowingly of the positive contributions of the Indian-American community in the way of life of Texans. He emphasized the significance of the port of Houston for energy exports.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats emphasized the importance of US-India cooperation in addressing the threat arising from extremist radical terrorism. He also spoke of the potential of US companies contributing in the economic transformation of India.

Congressman Ami Bera, Democratic Chair of the House India Caucus said that the increase in number of elected Indian-Americans currently in Congress is a testimony to the remarkable strides that the Indian-American community has made and the growing closeness between the two countries that is based on shared values. He noted that the India Caucus is the largest one on the Hill and his firm belief that the US-India relationship will be a defining one for the 21st century.

Congressman George Holding, Republican Chair of House India Caucus spoke of the importance of building the economic cooperation alongside the political relationship and looked forward to his upcoming visit to India.

Congressman Hank Johnson noted India’s millennial old history and reputation for peacefulness and the link between the non-violent movement for civil rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and looked forward to his forthcoming visit to India.

Other Members of Congress present included Senator Jeff Flake, Congressman Bob Goodlatte- Chairman of House Judiciary committee, Congressman Andy Harris, Congressman Ted Poe- Chairman House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non- proliferation and Trade and Congressman Joe Kennedy.

Two distinguished Congressional delegations shall be visiting India in the week of 19th February. One delegation traveling under the auspices of the Aspen Institute and comprising 19 senior Congressmen shall be visiting Delhi, Hyderabad and the other led by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and comprising 8 distinguished Congressmen has Delhi and Bangalore on its itinerary. They would have the opportunity to engage with Indian Ministers, decision makers, thinkers, business representatives and partake of the rich Indian cultural palette.

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India, US vow to boost defense ties

Feb 9, 2017 0

Washington– India and the US have agreed to maintain the pace and momentum of their partnership, particularly in the defence ties, after US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis spoke over phone with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, American and Indian officials said on Thursday.

Manohar Parrikar

Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said it was the “first conversation” between Mattis and Parrikar.

“Secretary Mattis committed to build upon the tremendous progress in bilateral defence cooperation made in recent years, underscoring the strategic importance of the US-India relationship and India’s role in advancing global peace and security,” Davis said after the two leaders spoke on Wednesday.

Jim Mattis

Mattis and Parrikar, Davis said, also “affirmed their commitment to sustain the momentum on key bilateral defence efforts to include the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative”.

The Defence Ministry in a statement in Delhi said the two leaders “expressed satisfaction at the progress in defence cooperation between India and the United States, especially in recent years and noted its significance in the regional and global context”.

It said Mattis and Parrikar “emphasised the special significance and high priority placed by both countries to the relationship, and resolved to work together to further consolidate and expand this partnership in the future”.

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20 Business Organizations Urge Congressional Action to Improve U.S.-India Economic Relationship

Feb 2, 2017 0

WASHINGTON, D.C.– As a new US Congress and administration start to define policies, business leaders representing nearly all sectors of the U.S. economy sent a letter to congressional leadership, urging them to work for a more robust and reciprocal U.S.-India economic relationship, including the advancement of concrete and lasting policy reforms to address ongoing challenges in India that have negatively impacted U.S. industries and jobs, according to a statement by Alliance for Fair Trade With India.

The letter notes: “While there have been several steps in the right direction over the past two and a half years since Prime Minister Modi’s election, including foreign investment openings in a few sectors, fossil fuel and energy efficiency policy initiatives, efforts to address infrastructure project permitting and licensing challenges, and passage of legislation related to bankruptcy and tax reforms, concrete and lasting policy changes to address a number of other longstanding issues comprehensively remain elusive.”

West side view of the United States Capitol building.

Among the outstanding issues manufacturers face in India, the letter cites “forced localization measures; high tariffs, including some contrary to India’s WTO commitments; foreign ownership restrictions in a number of sectors, including Business to Consumer (B2C) retail; insufficient protection of intellectual property rights; long and inconsistent government approvals and licenses; and unique and onerous standards and testing procedures” that harm opportunities for manufacturers in the United States and undermine efforts to deepen the U.S.-India relationship.

The letter concludes: “The U.S. government, including Congress, should use all available channels to ensure fair play for businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs across the United States, and to support Indian efforts that align with these goals,” including strengthening dialogue channels and active use of appropriate trade enforcement tools.

Business organizations signing the letter are: Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), American Business Conference (ABC), American Chemistry Council (ACC), American Foundry Society (AFS), Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), CropLife America, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB).

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US-based Skybox Security logs 154 percent increase in revenue from India

Feb 2, 2017 0

New Delhi–Cyber security firm Skybox Security on Thursday said it has registered a 154 per cent increase in revenue (year-over-year) earned from the Indian businesses in 2016.

Skybox recently opened an India support centre in Bengaluru, providing additional technical support to customers in the country and the Asia-Pacific and China (APAC) region.

Avi Corfas

“Internet penetration and adoption of ‘leap frog’ technologies like WLAN, mobile devices and virtualised networks are driving growth because they bring with them a dramatically different threat landscape and security management challenges,” said Avi Corfas, Vice President, APAC and Latin America, Skybox Security, in a statement.

As part of its Digital India initiative, The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Center (NCIIPC) recently released 40 tenets to improve cybersecurity in organisations essential to the economy, health and defence.

“Compliance may be the number one operational challenge for Indian businesses — most businesses, for that matter,” added Sridhar Namachivayan, Regional Director of India and Saarc, Skybox.

Skybox works with 15 top-tier channel partners in India, including Mahindra SSG, Valuepoint Techsol, Wipro and HCL.

“Without network automation to streamline workflows, data collection and analysis, tracking and reporting, security teams simply can’t keep up with compliance requirements. On top of that workload, they must also be concerned with the needs of the business and the day-to-day protection of their organisation,” Namachivayan added.

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Modi-Trump meeting in June may make things better for H-1B visa

Jan 31, 2017 0

C.P. Gurnani

New Delhi– Grappling with the likely fallout of the US government’s proposed H-1B visa reform bill in the US House of Representatives, C.P. Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra, hopes that things will become better once Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US President Donald Trump, most likely in June.

A legislation that calls for doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000 from the current minimum wage of $60,000, has been introduced in US House of Representatives — a move that could badly impact Indian techies in the US.

President Donald Trump

“President Trump (already) had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi. I am sure they will meet very soon. Both of them have a background (Trump has a background of running businesses and Modi is clearly a pro-business prime minister) and both will definitely find a meeting ground,” Gurnani told BTVi in an interview.

“Prime Minister Modi is not shy of raising issues or putting issues on the table and neither is Trump. So I do believe that this meeting can happen as early as June and if this meeting happens in June there should be a positive outcome,” he added.

Asserting the position of Indian IT companies in the US, Gurnani said: “In the US a few senators can sponsor a Bill but it is for the Congress to decide it’s the right Bill or not. The viewpoint of Indian industry is very loud and clear.”

He said Indian companies have been a net investor in America. India-incorporated IT companies investments is close to $2 billion in the US and India incorporated IT companies are able to create about 100,000 jobs a year in America.

“Similarly we believe that we contribute to America with very high skilled work force because we are reacting to a demand-supply. The reality is that in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the US needs that smart capital. So it’s a win-win for both India and America,” Gurnani added.

Expressing his faith on Trump’s decisiveness, Gurnani said: “My belief is that India and America both can be great because an American corporation needs the rest of the world (the world outside of America) as much as they need internal America.”

He said in an average American company 30 per cent of their business is within the US and 70 per cent is outside the US.

On Tech Mahindra’s operations in the US, Gurnani said: “Even before the Trump administration, we had six development centers, two engineering centers, two data centers and one device testing lab in the US. And we were running it, localising it because it was the right thing to do both for Tech Mahindra and our American customers.”

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IT firm Cyient acquires US-based Certon Software for $7.5 million

Jan 24, 2017 0

Hyderabad–IT services firm Cyient Ltd., through its wholly owned subsidiary Cyient Inc., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100 percent shares of US-based Certon Software Inc. in an all-cash transaction.

Incorporated in 2006, Certon is an IP-led innovative provider of full product life-cycle engineering services to companies seeking certification approval for safety-critical systems, embedded software and electronic hardware. It employs a core team of around 45 people and showed revenues of $7.3 million in calendar year 2015.

Anand Parameswaran

The Hyderabad-based company said that this transaction will further strengthen the automation in its key vertical aerospace and defence in line with strategy for growth.

“The enterprise value payable will be $7.5 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis, subject to closing adjustments,” Cyient said in a BSE listing.

This is Cyient’s fifth acquisition in the last 2.5 years as part of its ‘design-build-maintain’ strategy.

Cyient has a strong cash position of $127 million and will continue to look for acquisitions that will enable it to achieve its goal of industry-leading growth.

“This acquisition will enable Cyient to create a differentiated value proposition in avionics that aligns with our aerospace and defence strategy of becoming a key Design Led Manufacturing (DLM) player in this space,” said Cyient’s Senior Vice President Anand Parameswaran.

“In Cyient, Certon has found a partner that is strategically aligned to its business and whose global presence and financial strength will be of immense value,” said CEO and founder of Certon, Timothy Stockon.

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US-based Salesforce to add 1,000 jobs in Hyderabad

Jan 24, 2017 0

Hyderabad– Software services major Salesforce plans to add 1,000 jobs in Hyderabad by 2020, making the city one of its largest engineering and customer success centers globally.

The company, which opened a new Center of Excellence (CoE) here on Tuesday, will expand its team of enterprise software engineers and customer success representatives in Hyderabad .

Srinivas Tallapragada

Telangana Minister for Marketing T. Harish Rao inaugurated the CoE in the presence of US Consul General Katherine B. Hadda and Salesforce President, Technology and Product, Srinivas Tallapragada.

The company said cloud computing was growing rapidly in India.

“Our research with IDC shows that the benefits of cloud computing coming from Salesforce customers in India will add a GDP impact of $4.2 billion to the Indian economy.”

Salesforce said it remained committed to India and made significant investments since November last year. (IANS)

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India: Protectionism fears remain but US-India collaboration to continue

Jan 21, 2017 0

New Delhi– With Donald Trump taking over the reins of the US, industry stakeholders in India and the government feel that the fears of protectionism and curbs on H1B visas will remain, but that the US will continue its financial and technological collaboration with India.

“We believe that US will continue to support global growth with financial and technological collaborations and investments,” Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa told IANS.

“We hope to build strong relationship between two dynamic democracies for the mutual benefit of the two biggest economies for the well being and prosperity of its people,” Lavasa added.

Nevertheless, industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) pointed out that the focus of the new US regime would be “inwards”.

Sunil Kanoria

“Not much of globalisation is expected. They will have the preference and support to their own people which is natural. Indian industries have to reinvent themselves. Indian industries have to take the opportunity in terms of goods and services, investing in the US,” Sunil Kanoria, President, Assocham and Vice Chairman, Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited told IANS.

“Apprehensions over possible negative impact on India’s IT industry is nothing but exaggeration. Indian IT professionals are known the world over for their expertise in providing affordable IT products and solutions and the same has been acknowledged globally,” D.S. Rawat, Secretary General of Assocham, told IANS.

However, industry chamber Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) said Indian industry is very optimistic about the incoming administration under President Trump and the future of India-US relations under the new US administration.

“The optimism about President Trump stems from the fact that he promises major tax cuts and reforms, which may instil the US back on a 3-4 per cent growth path, reviving not only the US economy but boosting the global economy,” the chamber added.

Another leading industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) hoped that “enormous mutual complementarities” between the two countries economies are fully leveraged.

“Business has always been at the forefront of this bilateral relationship and has helped strengthen the strategic imperative,” Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII was quoted as saying in a statement.

“As President Trump begins to implement his America First vision, we hope that the enormous mutual complementarities between our two economies are fully leveraged.”

“Indian companies are very much a part of the fabric of America and they stand ready to work with President Trump going forward,” Banerjee added.

State Bank of India chief economist Soumya Kanti Ghosh felt that the US will go for some sort of fiscal expansion – through increased infrastructure spending or tax cuts – which will lead to some capital outflow from India.

“If the US goes for fiscal expansion then countries like India will be at a disadvantage because there will be capital outflow from India,” Ghosh told IANS.

“Protectionist trend is another thing that India is fearful about. It could harm the developing economies more than the developed economies. It could be a drag on the developing economies. Lower growth in India-US trade could be problematic for India,” he added.

Ghosh, however, said the true impact of Trump becoming the 45th President of the US needs to be assessed after the initial 100 days as his policies unfold because the impact on India could be both positive and negative.

The worst fear is the effect on Indian IT industry in terms of curbs on H1B visas as promised by Trump. The stakeholders, however, felt that the issue has always been there and the apprehension could turn out to be an exaggeration.

“H1B visa is a bone of contention. The issue is there for a long time. It is just getting more attention now because the US President has specifically mentioned it. But we should not give too much attention to it,” Ghosh said.

R. Chandrashekhar, President, Nasscom, said the Indian IT industry looks forward to working with the Trump administration and the new Congress on issues of great importance.

“Our members provide critical services to thousands of companies, government agencies, non-profits and others across America. Indian IT companies work with 75 per cent of the Fortune 500 firms and help meet the needs of US businesses for skilled IT solutions to innovate, open new markets and expand operations, and thereby create thousands of jobs for Americans,” Chandrashekhar told IANS.

Indian IT firms have also significantly invested across the US. A survey found 84 of 100 Indian companies plan to invest in the US over the next five years, building on a presence in all the 50 states already.

“Contrary to some mis-perceptions and political rhetoric, the Indian IT sector has long contributed to the US economy in more ways than one. Besides making the US firms more efficient and competitive, the Indian IT industry has helped them develop new technologies and new products over the years, benefiting their customers and the American job growth,” B.V.R. Mohan Reddy, former Chairman, Nasscom told IANS.

With the rhetoric of Trump fading into the past, Reddy said that the US administration would take a balanced approach to high-skilled visas and the contribution of India’s IT sector to its economy.

Nidhi Goyal, Managing Director-Tax and Regulatory Affairs, Protiviti, told IANS: “Indians working abroad on H1B visa may not get extension to continue working in the US as its own citizens will be given preference over non-US citizens.”

Experts feel the equity markets will react strongly.

“President Trump’s remark ‘Buy American, Hire American’ is extremely disturbing. Protectionist nationalism is bad for global economy, global trade and markets. Stock markets will view this negatively,” V.K. Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist, Geojit BNP Paribas, told IANS. (IANS)

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Don’t be flippant with Indian symbols, Amazon told

Jan 15, 2017 0

New Delhi– Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das on Sunday asked e-tailer Amazon to refrain from being flippant about Indian symbols and icons and warned the American e-commerce giant that “indifference will be at your own peril”.

“Amazon, better behave. Desist from being flippant about Indian symbols & icons. Indifference will be at your own peril,” Das said in a tweet.

“Remain committed to economic reforms, ease of doing business & open trade. Sometimes get touchy when our icons are involved,” he said in a separate tweet.

Shaktikanta Das

In a third tweet, however, he added: “Comment on Amazon was as a citizen of India as I felt strongly about it. Nothing more should be read into it.”

The Secretary’s comments came days after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received a complaint about doormats portraying the Indian flag being listed for sale on Amazon’s Canada website.

Two days after Amazon’s Canada portal removed the article with doormats depicting the Indian flag after India objected to it, the online company, on its US portal, put up another article of slippers with Mahatma Gandhi’s image on it.

This provoked the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to say on Saturday that the company should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments.

“As a follow up to the matter regarding the sale of doormats with the Indian flag on Amazon, our Ambassador in Washington has been instructed to convey to Amazon that while providing a platform for third party vendors, they should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

Amazon describes the products as ‘Gandhi flip flops’ as a pair of “foam rubber flip flops”. It costs $16.99, or about Rs 1,200.

Soon after India threatened it won’t grant visas to any Amazon official if the company did not withdraw the Indian flag-themed doormat from its Canadian platform, the e-commerce website removed the article from the online marketplace, a media report said on Thursday.

“Amazon must tender unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately,” Swaraj had said in a tweet.

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Amazon writes to Sushma, regrets hurting Indian sensibilities

Jan 12, 2017 0

New Delhi–Amazon has written to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressing regrets at hurting Indian sensibilities, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday.

Swarup in a tweet said Amazon, in a response to Sushma Swaraj’s tweet, expressed “regret at hurting Indian sensibilities” and added that they have pulled off the offending item.

A copy of the letter was also tweeted by Sushma Swarup in which Amazon said the items – doormats with Indian flag – were posted by a third party and they took it down.

Sushma Swaraj

“A third-party seller, not Amazon, had listed these products for sale in Canada. These products were not available in India. After learning of the product’s listing, we immediately removed them from the Canadian website and implemented measures to ensure that these products could not be sold on any of our other marketplace or websites,” the letter said.

The letter said Amazon remains “steadfastly committed to India”, and refered to its CEO Jeff Bezo’s announcement to invest $5 billion in India.

It said Amazon values “immensely” its relationship with the Indian government, the country’s entrepreneurs and innovators, Indian customers and employees.

“Amaon is committed to respecting Indian laws and customs. To the extend that these items offered by a third-party seller in Canada offended Indian sensibilities, Amazon regrets the same,” it said.

“At not time did we intend or mean to offend Indian sentiments,” it said.

After being tweeted images of doormats featuring the Indian flag being available on Amazon Canada site by two vendors — Mayers Flag Doormats and XLYL, Sushma Swaraj had on Wednesday said Amazon must tender an unconditional apology and withdraw all products insulting the Tricolour, otherwise no Amazon official will get an Indian visa. (IANS)

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