Earlier today, ITIF hosted a robust discussion on Capitol Hill regarding our most recent report, The Indian Economy at a Crossroads. We were fortunate to be joined by Congressman Ami Bera (CA-7), along with Executive Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) Mark Elliot, and Rick Rossow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The timing of the event could not have been more appropriate as India recently elected a new government. With a record 550 million votes cast, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP party won the election based on their pro-business platform, which provided an excellent context to discuss ITIF’s policy recommendations for the Indian economy.
As the only Indian-American currently serving in Congress, Representative Bera provided a unique and insightful perspective on the U.S.-India relationship, noting that, while it is still developing, the incoming Modi government presents a perfect occasion for U.S. businesses to establish effective partnerships with India. He did recognize the many challenges that currently exist between the two nations, but stressed that the opportunities far outweigh those differences.
This was followed by an overview of our report, coauthored by myself and ITIF President Robert Atkinson, which outlines the five tenets India must adopt in order to truly revitalize its economy. Rick Rossow then spoke on the current political climate in India. Rick described the main goals that Prime Minister Modi hopes to accomplish—building infrastructure, decreasing government involvement in commerce by privatizing more industries, and ending retroactively enacted tax policies on businesses. Finally, Mark Elliot noted how the state of intellectual property (IP) rights in India has been detrimental to the innovation potential of India’s own economy, highlighting the GIPC’s IP Index, which has ranked India last among developed and emerging nations.
“The business community, quite clearly, would like to work with the new Indian government. They want to stimulate investment and encourage innovation. But to do so, the new government must move away from some of the IP policies adopted by the previous administration,” Elliot added.
While all of today’s participants were able to highlight what India must do in order to realize its full potential, the real challenge going forward is ensuring that India actually enacts the positive changes needed to get its economy back on track. The U.S. government and business community is clearly ready and willing to work with Prime Minister Modi, and while we are optimistic about the new government’s potential, only time will tell if the Prime Minister and his administration can deliver on campaign promises. One thing is clear, however: the opportunity for a new beginning for India’s economy is one that must not be wasted.