US India Global Review 2018

36 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW APRIL-JUNE 2018 Kutumbakam, the world is one family. It led to a telling headline in Bloomberg news which read, "Thanks to Trump, Meet the new leaders on global trade," pointing to Modi and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the first who spoke against protectionism and the other for women's equali- ty. "It was a brilliant elevation of India's profile on the world stage. It was very important that world leaders saw Modi's brand of pop- ulism and nationalism, not seen before in Davos," said Ron Somers, founder of India First Group in Washington, D.C. Modi's message at Davos on opening borders, becoming more globally engaged, not looking inward, "is a forceful ‘Call to Action’ vociferously declaring that ‘India is Open for Business’ and is well-prepared to be the exemplar for other nations around the globe," Somers assert- ed. India is the 'innovation back- bone' of every company in the U.S. and even Europe, Somers says. Proving his point was the presence of 3 Indian-origin busi- ness leaders out of the 15, who met President Donald Trump for dinner in Davos on Jan. 25. They represent multi nationals from three European countries: Rajeev Suri, CEO of Finland's Nokia Corporation; Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Switzerland's Novartis AG, and Punit Renjen, CEO of Britain's Deloitte Global. U.S. Business The first Indian head of govern- ment to address the world body in its 48 years, Modi led a huge gov- ernment and business delegation to the WEF, reminiscent of the early 1990s, when India's liberal- ization was taking off and its eco- nomic reforms were the talk of Davos. Since 1991 when econom- ic liberalization was kick-started, the engine of India's growth has been "unstoppable," said Somers who lived in India in the 1990s. "I have just come back from India and I have never seen such a churning, economic boom before." Rick Rossow, the Wadhwani Chair and senior advisor on U.S.- India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Washington, D.C. praised Modi's drive and accom- plishments so far, but contended nothing new happened in Davos. "The business community by and large, looking at the speech, didn't see a lot of substance, any specifics on reforms as he had done before," said Rossow, who used to be the director of the U.S.-India Business Council. "The big ideas have happened. The question is 'what's next on the docket?' Davos was the opportuni- ty to refresh the bucket." Rossow was also skeptical about Modi words against protec- tionism, saying India was one of the most protectionist countries in the world, a point Somers differed on. "The reality is, it's never been better. As a business person, I've never seen this ease of business before. Everyone I know who has come, has done well in India." In addition, "The fact is, every state within India is progressing across all communities. If you sit in a rick- shaw or a bus, you will see univer- sal support for the leader," he added. Today, India is the fastest grow- ing economy in the world project- ed to grow at the good clip of 7.4 percent of GDP annually by the International Monetary Fund. PM Narendra Modi Interacted with Leading Indian CEOs at Davos. Photo: Twitter/ @narendramodi