The picture was a little herky-jerky and the audio somewhat spotty, but Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) was unwavering Tuesday as he talked up his ongoing trade trip to India to a group of reporters back home in Annapolis.
“It would be economically irresponsible for us not to become more engaged with India,” O’Malley said, via Skype, from Mumbai, his second stop on a six-day trip during which he is seeking to showcase Maryland’s growing number of high-tech, bio-tech, life science and cyber firms to attract Indian start-ups, investment and collaboration.
The governor playfully brushed off a question from one reporter who relayed that he had received e-mails from readers skeptical of the value of such trips, suggesting this one was “a junket, a waste of money.”
“The size of these markets in India and China are so immense, it’s hard for us to get our head around them,” O’Malley said, once he turned serious, referencing a separate 10-day trip to Asia last summer.
O’Malley appeared Tuesday on two large screens set up in the reception room adjacent to his State House office in Annapolis.
Among those who joined him in a broadcast that seemed reminiscent of the early days of cable-access television were Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery) and Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery).
Both Baker and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) are accompanying O’Malley in India, and businesses located in their jurisdictions were among the first to announce deals attributed to the trip.
Barve and Miller are among three Indian-Americans serving in the Maryland General Assembly — which O’Malley said is the largest representation of any state in the country.
O’Malley, the first sitting governor of Maryland to travel to India, also touted the size of the delegation traveling with him: more than 100 government officials, educators and business leaders, the majority of whom are paying their own way.
“We have the largest delegation of any state that has ever come to India,” said Christian S. Johansson, Maryland’s secretary of business and economic development, once O’Malley turned the camera on his computer toward him.
O’Malley also noted that Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), with whom he frequently competes for businesses, had recently traveled to India as well — but with “a far smaller delegation.”
Prior to arriving in India, O’Malley touched down in Doha, Qatar, where he met His Highness the Amir of Qatar, among others.
O’Malley said he has been working to forge a “sister-state relationship” with Doha — which would be Maryland’s first from a Muslim country in the Middle East.