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Highlights of remarks by Ambassador Meera Shankar at the 34th USIBC Synergies Summit

Washington, DC
June 17, 2009 

India is determined to address the challenges of development without endangering its core values of democracy and respect for the right of the individual. Though undoubtedly there is much distance to be covered on this journey, India has come a long way from where it stood on the day it became independent. Decades of colonial rule had left India with a growth rate of 0.5%, a life expectancy of 28 years and a literacy rate of 17%. If we look at the same indicators today, we have reason to be encouraged with the progress we have made as we continue our mission of achieving sustainable growth in a democratic setting. 

India needs to grow its economy on three pillars – agriculture, industry, and services. The size of its population means that none of the three pillars can be overlooked if we are to provide gainful employment for all. And in each of these three sectors, the US can play a vital role.

In agriculture, we want to trigger the next generation of reforms in the agrarian economy by developing our agri-businesses and food-processing logistics supply chain. This offers excellent opportunities for US companies to collaborate to mutual benefit.

In manufacturing, Indian companies are engaged in developing a new paradigm with low cost-high technology products. The Nano, the world's cheapest car is a much talked of shining example of this. Our Moon mission is another; it cost one-sixth of what such missions have cost anywhere else in the world. So there is a tremendous opportunity for Indian and US companies to work together profitably in the manufacturing sector, which is critical for employment generation in India.

In services, utilizing mutual synergies has enhanced the competitiveness of companies in the US and generated profits and jobs even as it has brought a new business model to the Indian service sector. The success story in the area of IT is well known but collaboration which would benefit all partners is also projected to grow in new areas such as Engineering Design; R & D in biotechnology etc. As we move up the value chain, new opportunities are being created continually for India and the US to cooperate.

Today, for India, development of infrastructure and social development are major priorities and we would like to see US businesses engage more actively in these areas. They would not find it unprofitable.

We believe that a strong partnership between India and the US would be valuable not only to for achievement of our development objectives but also in building peace and prosperity on a broader basis.