Download Audio as MP3 bit player to a major power in world affairs. Will India fulfill its economic potential and become an engine of world growth, or will its often-chaotic politics thwart its ambitions? Will it be a reliable, democratic partner for the United States in Asia and beyond or an unpredictable wildcard in the international system? Does its young and growing population promise a demographic dividend or portend a potential disaster? Speakers will discuss what the rise of India means for the United States in terms of geopolitics, business, and development.
ASHLEY TELLIS, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
RON SOMERS, US-India Business Council
NICHOLAS EBERSTADT, AEI
Question and Answer
1150 Seventeenth St., NW
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American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
WASHINGTON, MARCH 14, 2011--India's transformation into a major economic power will strengthen the United States' position in South Asia and provide a wide variety of investment opportunities, panelists said Monday at an American Enterprise Institute event. Speakers highlighted the natural confluence of US-Indian political and strategic interests, the vast business opportunities available in India, and the continued demographic challenges India faces as it seeks to promote equitable growth in a diverse society. Education will play a key role in promoting economic growth and political stability in the region, so the educational disparities within India will pose challenges over the next two decades. Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace argued that the US-Indian relationship arises out of mutual need and shared values; the United States values India as a pluralistic democracy in the turbulent South Asian region, and India looks to the United States as an important economic and political power that will help maintain the regional stability India needs to continue pursuing economic growth. Ron Somers of the US-India Business Council encouraged India's decision makers to liberalize the education, retail, and infrastructure sectors further to attract US businesses; likewise, he encouraged US businesses to invest in these sectors, particularly in infrastructure, which will require approximately $1.7 trillion over the next five years alone. AEI's Nicholas Eberstadt presented demographic data, which suggest that Indian development is very uneven; while some areas have experienced rapidly falling birthrates, rising levels of education, and rapid economic growth, other states have quickly fallen behind. Speakers concluded that the Indian government must foster conditions that will promote economic growth and encourage the equitable distribution of resources and employment.
Ron Somers is president of the US-India Business Council, the premier business advocacy organization committed to strengthening US-India commercial ties. Previously, Mr. Somers worked as Unocal Corporation’s chief executive in India, and as managing director for India on behalf of Cogentrix Energy. During his time in India, he served on the board of directors of Hindustan Oil Exploration Company, India’s first private-sector oil exploration company, as well as on the board of the US Educational Foundation in India, which oversees the country’s Fulbright and Humphrey scholarship programs.