This is the India we all want to see — developed, economically stable and technologically advanced. Well this was the glimpse of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for India which was revealed on his visit to the US last month. And all this through elevating its long-standing strategic partnership with the US and recognizing the role of technology and innovation. Many called this as a ‘charm offensive’ on part of Modi but this visit was actually an opportunity to showcase what India had to offer and to proposition partnerships for broadening entrepreneurial environment for sustaining IT industry in India.
It is an undeniable fact that India’s economic and technology sectors are both aligned and integrated with US’s, more predominantly Silicon Valley’s tech industries – whether in terms of workforce, investments or global businesses. It has largely been about India’s bilateral equation with the US, but Modi’s recent visit to the west coast has also conspicuously touched the very nerve of the Indian tech industry – reassuring the industry by bolstering and revealing its multi-fold impact and contribution to the US economy in the form of job support, taxes, business investments and CSR efforts. To get to numbers, the Indian tech industry (IT-BPM/ITeS) is actually responsible for creating more than 400,000 jobs in the US, according to a Nasscom report ‘Contributions of India’s Tech Industry to the U.S. Economy’ — much contrary to the belief that the skilled Indian worker is taking away the American jobs.
This bilateral exchange of skills and talent seems to be the most enchanting facets of Modi’s trip to the US. To corroborate the fact, Nasscom’s report suggests that the “Indian tech industry alone has invested over USD 2 billion and paid over USD 20 billion in US federal, state and local taxes – while also supporting jobs in America.” Apart from fueling the human and capital investments, Indian IT firms are also lending a helping hand to the firms in the US in building innovative cost competitive solutions that aid in improving their global market share. However, it is also not unknown that conversely the US has also created jobs in India by altering economies of many Indian cities; however this was centered more on quenching the demand for products in America. But this time, it’s India’s need and demand which is at the pivot of Modi’s visit to the US. Therefore, where the US companies view India as a space that has a huge potential market for their own products and expansion, Modi in turn is pushing for their help in developing India’s tech industry further. Modi’s visit to the US has also enabled the tabling of the various issues and concerns that ail the IT industry in India and constrain its growth like the immigration bill issue.
As part of his trip, Modi met top leaders in the US tech industry—Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple's chief Tim Cook and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, along with Indian-Americans Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella and Shantanu Narayen, who are the leaders of Google, Microsoft and Adobe. These meetings led to many new initiatives like launch of free WiFi in 500 Indian railway stations and bringing low cost broadband services to 500,000 Indian villages with support from organizations like Google and Microsoft. The Digital India initiative also aimed at expanding Internet access, bolster electronics manufacturing and develop apps to improve the delivery of government services. Such initiatives have certainly exalted the India-US partnership in the digital economy. According to Sanjoy Sen, Senior Director, Deloitte, “The new government has given the IT sector reasons to be optimistic. The proposed national intellectual property rights (IPR) policy, increased collaboration between academic institutions and research bodies to bridge the skill gap between IT workers in both countries, and initiatives like the Digital India program have set the stage for Indian and American technology companies to work together.”
Even the start-up sector got a nudge when the ‘Start-up-Konnect’ showcased India’s strength of the start-up ecosystem and initiated the facilitation of a start-up exchange and collaboration program to jump-start high-tech start-ups in India by tying them to firms in Silicon Valley, simultaneously encouraging and scaling-up innovation in India. This was further strengthened by Qualcomm, the US chipmaker, which stated that it would “invest up to $150m in Indian start-up companies across all stages as part of its commitment to India.”
Although the Indian entrepreneurs are hopeful that Modi’s visit will streamline regulations and foster entrepreneurship, and will encourage technological and economic development, delivering on the promises made is the more challenging bit.