Pandemic did not stop India from economic reforms; US businesses can benefit from it: Indian envoy

The coronavirus pandemic has not stopped India from undertaking bold economic reforms, Indian envoy to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu has said, urging the American businesses to take benefits of these “path-breaking” reforms in labour, space and agriculture sectors.

Speaking at the India-Virginia Business Roundtable organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry on Wednesday, Sandhu said the Indian government has opened every sector, barring a few, for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

“The pandemic has not stopped India from undertaking some bold economic reforms. Almost every sector, barring a few, have been opened for FDI under automatic route, and with limits above 51 per cent,” he said.

Sandhu during his address also highlighted the National Education Policy and various path breaking reforms taken in India.

“We have brought in new National Education Policy and path-breaking reforms in labour, space, and agriculture sectors. Our aim is to create virtuous cycles of investment, growth and employment through these focused and people-centric reforms,” he said during the round table that was attended by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Sandhu said that during the pandemic there has also been expanded collaboration between the two countries in areas such as health, vaccine development, science, and technology and innovation.

“We are learning from each other’s best practices. The free and open exchange of ideas and information has been one of the biggest strengths of our partnership,” he said.

He said in Virginia in particular 14 Indian companies have invested around USD 80 million. These investments support over 1,300 jobs.

With the majority of the investment in IT sector, Indian companies are adding to Virginia’s competitive edge, in tech innovation.

Noting that Northam has been focused on developing an education system underlining innovation, he said technology and innovation after all hold the key to the future.

Sandhu mentioned three Indian companies, among others, who have a significant presence in Virginia. Wipro – one of the leading IT companies of India – in 2019 selected Richmond in Virginia to establish their latest engineering and innovation center.

Apart from IT, Indian companies are moving to Virginia for opportunities in other sectors as well. Granules India – an Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing company based in Hyderabad – found its way to Fairfax County, Virginia.

Similarly, Mumbai-based specialty packaging company, Essel Propack’s, has a manufacturing facility, in the city of Danville, he said.

“It is indeed praiseworthy that besides bringing in the FDI our companies through their CSR initiatives, have been giving back to the local communities. They are supporting students particularly in STEM fields by collaborating with the US educational institutions and are focusing on upskilling and reskilling of workers,” he said.

Indian companies have also been funding research and innovation activities in the US strengthening further the US knowledge economy, he said.

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