India has a Pivotal Role in Global Order: USIBC


USIBC President Mukesh Aghi, third from left, receives a souvenir
from IACCGH President Ashok Garg and Consul General P. Harish
on Tuesday as IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia looks on.
Photo: Bijay Dixit

By Haider Kazim

HOUSTON: India has a pivotal role in U.S. geopolitical strategy for a stable global order to prevent the world from sinking into chaos as seen in the Middle East, said Mukesh Aghi, President of U.S.-India Business Council.

Tracing back the U.S. geopolitical strategy from the days of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations, Aghi presented a holistic picture of the U.S.-India relations and emphasized that global order was a fundamental issue in the partnership.

He was addressing a luncheon meeting organized by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) as part of their Distinguished Lecture series sponsored by Shell oil company and Houston Business Journal on Tuesday.

The global order, Aghi said, was witnessing new challenges from the rise of China which he described as a “hard threat”; Russia was aligning itself with China; and Japan was becoming much more defensive. As a result, the U.S. needed allies for its leadership role in the global order.

At some point of time, India would have to decide how much to align with the United States and how to manage China with which it also has a border dispute. He said China would challenge India in every respect and would keep India occupied in areas by funding Pakistan. He cited the recent visit of Chinese submarines to the Arabian Sea port of Karachi and Chinese plans to invest $60 billion in Pakistan.

Aghi said that India would have to react to the U.S. partnership with a relationship that defines China.

Aghi said that the U.S. and India were aligned on a long-term basis. The Pentagon has set up a rapid reaction team in support of India and the two countries would conduct 54 joint military exercises. The U.S. was transferring technology to India for manufacturing in a more cost-effective way. He said a private company in Bangalore was making drones for use by the U.S. and allies at a cost that was 80 percent cheaper than the U.S.

Aghi said India was facing the challenges from a population of 1.2 billion people of which 50 percent were 25 years or lower. They needed education, jobs, healthcare facilities and other necessities. India is also facing a massive migration of nearly 400 million from villages to urban areas in the next 10 years. These will create a $2 trillion economy.

He saw a bright future for India-U.S. trade which, he said, would grow to reach $500 billion in the next five years.

In answer to a question on nuclear cooperation, Aghi said two U.S. companies were going to set up nuclear plants in India and expected the Westinghouse plant, in cooperation with L&T to be completed by the end of this year.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmet emphasized the central location of Houston in U.S. trade with India. Emmett, who has led a Harris County trade mission to India in the past, said he remained committed to promoting the U.S.-India trade
IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia thanked Dhamo Dhamotharan, Group Chief Executive of AECOM, for helping to bring the USIBC chief to Houston for addressing the Distinguished Lecture series. He also thanked Judge Emmett for his efforts in promoting the bilateral trade.

IACCGH President Ashok Garg said there was a new momentum in U.S.-India ties and the roles of USIBC and IACCGH had become more important at this juncture in promoting and hoped that the overall volume would reach 500 billion in the next five years.

Garg said the Chamber had facilitated three trade delegations to India in the past year, including one led by Houston Mayor Annise Parker. He said the Indian Chamber of Commerce is bringing a trade delegation to Houston next week which would present opportunities for Houston businesses.

IACCGH was founded in 1999 to facilitate commerce between the U.S. and India; to facilitate access to the Indo-American market; be the voice of the Indo-American business community; and enable Greater Houston professionals, businesses, and corporations to succeed.

The U.S.-India Business Council is the premier business advocacy organization representing more than 300 of the largest global companies investing in India. It was formed in 1975 to enlighten and encourage the private sectors of both countries to enhance investment flows. USIBC’s primary mission is to serve as a direct link between business and government leaders, resulting in increased trade and investment to strengthen ties between the two nations.