The US –India Partnership

[L-R] Frank Wisner, Arundhatti Bhattacharya, Nirupama Rao, Jamshyd Godrej, Rahul Jacob

MUMBAI – 15 January 2015 Asia Society, in partnership with State Bank of India, was pleased to present on its platform a conversation between SBI Chairperson Arundhatti Bhattacharya, Former US Ambassador to India, Frank Wisner, Former India Ambassador to the US & China, Nirupama Rao and Chairman of Godrej & Boyce, Jamshyd Godrej. The panel discussion was moderated by Business Standard’s Rahul Jacob.

It was a beautiful evening at the SBI Chairman Bhattacharya’s charming residence. A few words were said by Asia Society President & CEO, Josette Sheeren, who recalled Asia Society Founder John D. Rockefeller III’s profound vision of a rising Asia and how prescient his predictions were in India, America, and across Asia. The panel discussion revolved around the India-US relationship, including some hurdles that remain, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and whether India will simply remain a US ally or develop as an allied friend.

Ambassador Wisner said the relationship between India and America is highly encouraging and has positively evolved over the last couple decades. He explained there are points of departures and disagreements, but they don’t threaten the relationship. Ambassador Wisner believes TPP is critical for India’s further economic prosperity. On the subject of alliance, Ambassador Wisner is a proponent of constructive dialogue as compared to simply signing agreements.

Chairperson Bhattacharya highlighted how India finds resonance with the US via the Indian American population residing in the US. On TPP, she agreed that India should look to globalize further but cautioned India is a unique country with a vast consumption market. Chairperson Bhattacharya stressed that negotiations need to be held in phases.

Ambassador Rao believes India is far more mature today when compared to a couple years ago. Many people looked at India differently in the 1950s and 1960s. She agrees with Chairperson Bhattacharya’s sentiment on how India presents an incredible opportunity for companies and countries that wish to engage with Indian consumers.

Mr. Godrej poignantly said, “The strength of the India-US relationship is the exchange of dialogue”. Mr. Godrej’s view is that TPP will enhance Indian employment and offers additional material benefits.

The audience was left with the following question after an evening of rich conversation: Should India reduce protectionism in order to be more globally competitive, or should Indian industry be given the ability to effectively tap its own domestic market to boost its global standing?

Reported by: Nilza Mehta, Volunteer, Asia Society India Centre.

Video: Watch the complete program (1 hr., 54 min.)

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