This August 15, beautiful Kathak dancers from India took over New York City amidst a packed audience of Americans, Indians and tourists from all over. There was also a permanent, silent but appreciative observer - the iconic Statue of Liberty holding her torch aloft, looking on as India unfolded on the Hudson. This was a unique collaboration of India and America, part of Jonathan Hollander’s Downtown Battery Dance Festival. The dancers, sponsored by ICCR, who will travel to other cities are part of India’s soft diplomacy, along with many new initiatives at the Indian consulate, all aimed at fine-tuning the India-America relationship. These include the New India Lecture Series, Art & Culture @consulate and musical baithaks to popularize Indian classical music amongst the second-generation and American audiences.
Bollywood is also a major attraction and we got to see its power when Anupam Kher came for the Independence Day celebrations at the Indian Consulate. He is becoming more and more a part of America, and is currently shooting an NBC serial in New York. He said, “In the last 20 days working here I have made a strange discovery – I feel more Indian in America than I felt in India! In our own country we take our country for granted but we long for it when we live outside. I’ve had selfies with over 500 people. I’ve had free rides with every Indian cab driver! Now I wait only for an Indian cab driver - and stop him!”
Is India the Job Creator?
Are Indians taking away jobs from Americans or are they actually creating jobs and wealth in America?
At a recent business meeting at the Indian Consulate with scores of Indian companies present, Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General of India in New York, shared the startling fact that over 113,423 jobs in the US have been created by 100 Indian companies which account for $17.9 billion in investments. ‘Indian Roots, American Soil’ is a report by CII which was released late last year and shows that the 100 companies surveyed were doing business in all 50 states. In fact, New Jersey, Texas, California, New York and Georgia are home to the largest number of workers in America who are directly employed by Indian companies.
At the same time money is coming into American states from India: The top five states in which Indian companies have contributed the highest foreign direct investment are: New York ($1.57 billion), New Jersey ($1.56 billion), Massachusetts ($931 million), California ($542 million) and Wyoming ($435 million). According to the report, the average amount of investment received from Indian companies per state/territory is $187 million. 85 percent of the companies surveyed planned to make more investments in the US and 87 percent planned to hire more employees locally in the next few years. So no doubt about it – the Indo-American connections continue to flourish and could flourish even more with some nurturing. Enter iPIN!
The iPIN Factor
Since the Indian companies participating in such diverse sectors as pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, aerospace and defense as well as healthcare, tourism and hospitality, engineering and construction, food and agriculture, manufacturing and information technology, they also contribute to corporate social responsibility (CSR) – a total of $147 million and $588 million in research and development expenditures. Seeing all these successful Indian companies CG Chakravorty decided to do some creative matchmaking by creating iPIN – It is shortform for the Indian Professionals and Investors Network and acts as a catalyst for business leaders with initiatives to create synergy for trade and investments in the two countries. i-PIN has already attracted a 100 members.
“The idea came about from seeing the large presence of Indian corporates in the US, particularly in the jurisdiction of the consulate,” says Chakravorty. “The states of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania are huge recipients of Indian investments. The idea was to then bring them together to help them and also to tell their story. It was found that there are no organisations or forums for such companies. Since these companies deal a lot with the consulate, why not band them together?”
He adds, “The numbers are growing. If it is successful here and if we are able to add value, we may see other consulates in the US emulating this. It is important because India-us relations are growing, and there is more trade and investment. India is also investing in the US, and we are also creating jobs and value in the US.”
One of the prime partners at this initial gathering was Ashwini Kumar Tewari, the country head of State Bank of India in the US. As he pointed out, the industry associations are largely focused on issues of US companies in India so there was a real need for a network of Indian professionals and corporate to get ground level information on issues facing the Indian companies in the US. Tewari observed, “Today I spoke to many Pharma companies - all were excited to be part of the Pharma working group. We will through the CG’s offices create this and then bring in other sector specialists. The more companies come in on this, the stronger it becomes and more representative as well. There is a need to go micro and granular. We have talked enough macro!”
The i-PIN guests also enjoyed a delicious Indian dinner – so let me share one sure-fire tip - business always goes better on a full stomach!
Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who blogs at