‘Sky is the limit for Indo-U.S. ties,’ says India's new envoy Sandhu

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India’s newly appointed envoy to the U.S., addresses a welcome reception at India House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6. A number of senior administration officials, U.S. lawmakers and Congressional staffers, ambassadors of Nepal, Russia, and China and other members of the diplomatic corps, leading business leaders, heads of think tanks and prominent members of the Indian American community, attended the reception.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an interaction with America Inc., one day after he presented his credentials to President Donald Trump, India’s newly minted Ambassador to the U.S., Taranjit Singh Sandhu, has said that when U.S. capital and expertise meets the Indian market and Indian mind, the sky’s the limit as the potential for cooperation between Washington and New Delhi is limitless.

Addressing the American business and industry community on Feb. 7, at a reception in his honor hosted by U.S.-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), Sandhu said he’s “bullish about our relationship,” and predicted, “the best is yet to come.

“When U.S. capital and expertise, meets the Indian market and Indian mind, we should aim for nothing less, but the sky,” he said, and added, “I look forward to working with USISPF and each one of you in this endeavor of taking our relationship, to new heights. In this journey, Prime Minister Modi has made it clear that the U.S .is a preferred partner for trade and business,” Sandhu said, and noted that in this regard, the prime minister’s goal — helped by the catalytic role by the “limitless” India-U.S. cooperation — is to grow India from the current $3 trillion economy to a $5 trillion economy by 2024 and to double it to a $10 trillion economy by 2030.

“The relations between our governments has found a new momentum, getting its energy from the warm friendship between our leaders,” he said and pointed out that the “U.S. president and our prime minister have met four times last year.”

Lauding USISPF president Mukesh Aghi and his team “for making USISPF a valuable and strong stakeholder in the U.S.-India bilateral relationship, and recalled, “When I was here, as a young diplomat in 1997, I always sensed, the potential of the U.S.-India partnership, and wondered how we could, move forward.

“We are both vibrant democracies; open and multi-cultural societies, based on the rule of law. Our partnership today, is as natural as, it is seamless, based on the strong people-to-people connections. We have become, global strategic partners, and our collaboration, cuts across spheres of activity, which was unimaginable two decades ago.”

Sandhu declared, “There is a new India, which is vibrant, fiercely democratic, young, and aspirational, which is shaping our relationship,” and in making his case, explained, “India has, one of the youngest populations in an aging world. India is a land of 800 million young people. In 2020, the median age in India is just 28, compared to 37 in China, and in the U.S., 45, and 49 in Japan.

And, in terms of tangibles, the new envoy, said, “The youth, are the drivers of the new start-up ecosystem in India,” and pointed out that India today “is the third largest, start-up base in the world. We added 13,000 tech startups last year.

‘Sky is the limit for Indo-U.S. ties,’ says India's new envoy Sandhu

Ambassador Sandhu with U.S.-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) president Mukesh Aghi at a reception hosted in Sandhu’s honor, Feb. 7.

Piling on more information about what India brings to the table with its aspirational youth, Sandhu said, India, is home today, to around 27 unicorns, that is, start-up companies valued at over $1 billion.

Companies like Zomato, Swiggy, Big Basket, are home-grown, and have revolutionized lives in India.”

India is also home, to more than two million social enterprises — companies, which cater to diverse social causes,” and added, “in the last eight years, over 1.2 billion Indians have received their biometric IDs — Aadhaar, as we call it.

“This was the fastest ever rate of reaching a billion users, and it has surpassed the growth of global giants like Facebook, WhatsApp, and even mobile phones,” he added.

Sandhu said “Aadhaar is also, the largest and most successful IT project ever undertaken in the world, with 1.1 billion people — 92 percent of the population — having a digital proof of identity.”

Meanwhile, according to Sandhu, in terms of the growth of the digital economy, he said, “In 2016, India overtook the U.S. in terms of Internet users. India’s Internet user-base, is now the second largest in the world. There are about 1 billion mobile users today. In mobile data consumption, today, India isin the first position, ahead of U.S. and China put together. 

He also said that India’s space program, “is among the most ambitious and cost-effective ones in the world,” and noted that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)holds the record of launching, the most number of satellitesfrom a single rocket, the most economical mission to Mars — two lunar missions — and will soon be launching its first manned mission to space.”

In this regard he said the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and ISRO “have been collaborating, in a variety of space activities.”

Obviously armed with statistics, Sandhu also spoke to India’s burgeoning growth in the markets it offers in the manufacturing sector, and noted that India today is the “fourth largest automobile market in the world and the seventh largest for the manufacture of commercial vehicles, and U.S. companies like Ford, are running successful operations in India.”

He also said that its Indian educational institutions that “have produced the minds” that today lead global corporations like Google, Microsoft, MasterCard, Nokia, and IBM, and even in the area of artificial intelligence, India was fast becoming an AI hub in the world, and noted that reports suggest that “60 percent of India’s GDP by 2021 will come from AI.”

And, Sandhu added, when it comes to movies, “India is also the largest cinema producer in the world — more Bollywood films are watched by people than from any other industry, and there are more Bollywood and Hollywood collaborations now.”

Thus, he said, “It is the people from the business community across both countries, people like you, who contribute so much to our relationship. Entrepreneurs and businessmenand womenhave been the key stakeholdersof our relationship.”

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