India and the US share many strategic interests but the opportunity to Go BIG is now. We have a common interest in dramatically expanding trade and economic growth in both countries. Increasing bilateral trade from $100 billion to $500 billion is a worthy goal but advancing innovation and investment in core sectors are an essential prerequisite. I would therefore propose the following two specific initiatives be put into place by September 30, 2014:
1. A $1 trillion US-India Infrastructure initiative which focuses on opening up the debt markets in both countries to fund major infrastructure projects in India. This will spur freer flow of capital and result in jobs and opportunities in both countries.
2. Immediately establish two joint US-India manufacturing innovation institutes, one in the US and the other in India, principally funded by private capital. One would focus on defense manufacturing and the other on the growth of SMEs. We should innovate, incubate and advance bilateral trade through these institutes. Goal is to create $20 billion in bilateral investment within 5 years.
In his 2013 State of the Union, President Obama had proposed to create a series of three new manufacturing institutes. They are now in action. Each institute is designed to serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between applied research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S. This type of “teaching factory” provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes. I am proposing this be expanded to a US-India effort with the addition of two more such institutes, one in each country.
In the Vibrant Gujarat 2013 Summit, then Chief Minister Narendra Modi announced that the SME sector in Gujarat witnessed Rs 2,400 crore worth of investment proposals by 12,800 SMEs in the field of manufacturing, design and innovation. He urged skill development centers, patent registration simplification and entrepreneurship to create a ‘Made in Gujarat-India’ brand for products manufactured by SMEs.
· And now, Prime Minister Modi’s new national government has promised to forge public-private partnerships to overhaul India’s infrastructure, set up civil nuclear power projects, build 100 smart cities with modern telecommunications and create a network of high-speed railways. The government has said it would set up industrial regions aimed at making India a “globally competitive manufacturing hub,” including defense manufacturing.
These are already high priorities of each leader and their governments and will promote the strategic partnership in a tangible way. Its time to get going!