The plunge in India’s economic growth over last few years, coupled with America’s deepening role in resolving old and new conflicts throughout Middle East, Eurasia and East Asia has pushed India-U.S. relations on the back burner. India has a new prime minister, Narendra Modi, who was elected in May in a landslide victory. He is on his maiden visit to the United States to rekindle the ties between world’s two largest democracies.
The United States leads the world in innovating new technologies. Thanks to Moore’s Law, this innovation is exploding exponentially. Marc Andreessen, the inventor of Mosaic Web browser that enabled the Internet has eloquently stated, “ Why Software Is Eating the World.” Software is rapidly growing in its importance to businesses of all types: from cyber-security, national defense, and life sciences to robotics, manufacturing and energy. In the future all devices will be connected to the Internet. According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.
The United States needs software engineering talent to write billions of lines of new code to develop Internet of Things. Indian engineers on H-1B visas have been working in Silicon Valley for decades with their American counterparts and fueling innovation. They have contributed significantly to advancing innovation in high technology. Some of the well known names include: Vinod Khosla (co-founder of Sun Microsystem), Sabeer Bhatia, (Founder of Hotmail), and more recently Satya Nadella (chief executive of Microsoft) Amit Singhal (Google Fellow, a master of ranking algorithms), Sundar Pichai (senior vice president at Google). The United States is projected to have a shortage of 1.5 million software engineers over the next decade. India’s huge pool of software and computer science talent can enable America to continue its lead in innovation.
Immigrant Indians are also helping create jobs in the United States. Even though Indians are less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, they have founded about 15 percent of Silicon Valley start-ups. The United States should ease entry and citizenship for immigrant engineers to ensure its continued supremacy in innovation.
The United States can also benefit from India’s growing consumer needs. India’s demand for electronics products is forecasted to rise nearly 10 times in the next decade to reach $400 billion by 2020. India has the potential to become the world’s largest middle class consumer market with an aggregated consumer spend of nearly $13 trillion by 2030, as reported by Deloitte. U.S. high tech companies are already flourishing in India. Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, amongst others, have a very a wide and growing base of Indian consumers. The United States should reciprocate to India’s large and growing market access by markedly increasing its business and foreign direct investments in India.
India is an emerging world power. It has the single largest youth population in the world, with two thirds of its 1.2 billion citizens under the age of 35. Modi has made bringing manufacturing to India a very high priority. He has recently launched a “ Make in India” campaign with a goal to make India a manufacturing hub and provide jobs to tens of millions of low skilled unemployed youth. The future of manufacturing is where all household devices and appliances will be software enabled. The United States can be a great partner in reinventing software enabled intelligent device manufacturing. India needs American capital, know-how and technology to make this happen. India should provide free access to its large markets. Done correctly, it can create a win-win situation for both.
Modi is the most charismatic Indian leader since India’s struggle for independence. He has already started to sow the seeds for a turnaround in India’s economy and started galvanizing the nation towards his vision for restoring India’s place in the world. He is rapidly simplifying the bureaucratic procedures, instituting long-overdue market reforms and implementing fair, effective, and transparent processes to attract foreign investments.
Modi’s focus on business and his pragmatism provide the United States an opportunity for a fresh look at its relationship with India. Once inextricably engaged, America will find India a more reliable and trusting partner for long times to come.
Dham is popularly known as the “Father of Pentium,” he is technologist, entrepreneur, and recently a venture capitalist focused on early stage investments in India, where he was born.