India, US have to resist forces of intolerance: Biden

WASHINGTON, Sept 22:  India and the US have to resist the forces of intolerance and remain vigilant in their efforts to make the democracies stronger and more inclusive, Vice- President Joe Biden has said.
Speaking at the 40th Annual Gala of the US India Business Council (USIBC) last evening, he also said, American can be India’s “best friend”, and that the challenges of the current world bring the two countries closer than ever before.
“Both our nations have to resist the forces of intolerance and remain vigilant in our efforts to make our democracies stronger and more inclusive. It’s not just the morally right thing to do, it’s the economic necessary thing to do,” the Vice-President said.
Biden’s address, his second major speech on India in the last 100 days, also kicked off the inaugural India US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.
“We are in a new era of India US relationship,” he said.
“We’re both major players on the world stage. And it’s up to us — India and the United States — to lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. As I said, it’s not just the morally right thing to do, it’s in the long-term economic interests of India and quite frankly the whole world. And it works,” Biden said.
The Vice-President also said, “We need to stand together on counter terrorism and counter violent extremism,” adding, the most important issue of the era is the challenges posed by climate change.
Addressing top corporate leaders from the two countries, Biden said, ultimately commercial success depends on the development of human capital.
It’s India’s greatest resource, adding, the US has benefitted from that Indian greatest resource here.
“We’ve experienced it first-hand — 3 million Indian- Americans whose talent have shaped the fabric of this country in our schools, our hospitals, our research labs, in our courtrooms, in our government, in the arts and entertainment, and from Silicon Valley to Main Street,” he said.
It is reflected also in the uniform so many Indian- Americans wear for the US military, he added.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Silicon Valley next week, Biden said, the visiting leader will see during his visit that “entrepreneurship is hard-wired in the DNA of both Americans and Indians.”
Observing that there is so much potential in trade and investment between the two countries, there is no reason that it cannot increase five times.
Entrepreneurs of Indian-origin founded 15 per cent of the Silicon Valley startups. Half a dozen of the Fortune 500 companies are led by Indian-Americans, Biden said.
About 100,000 Indian students study at American universities, and we aim to double that by the year 2020 and triple that number of American students studying in India, he said.
During his visit to India a few years ago, Biden had called for increasing the bilateral trade from the current USD 100 billion per annum to USD 500 billion per annum – a goal which now has been set up by the two countries.
In his visit, however, Biden had cited reforms needed in the era of intellectual property. There is enormous potential, he had said, seeking easing of hindrances in foreign investment.
He also called for inclusive growth that takes care of all sections of the society including women.
“As we see in America, reaching our full potential requires empowering everyone. And we haven’t always been quick to do that. Empowering immigrants, empowering everyone regardless of their ethnic or religious minority status. And, those in the LGBT community, and especially women,” he said.
“Both of us, the United States and India — in my view, the whole world has to continue to unlock the potential of more than half the population in the world,” he said.
India he said is full of possibilities, Biden said in his keynote address, which was attended among others by Secretary of State John Kerry, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Energy Minister Piyush Goyal.
Speaking at the USIBC event, Secretary of State John Kerry said clean energy market is the mother of all markets.
He also hoped that India and the US would partner with each other to get the job done in the clean energy sector, which has the potential to change the face of the world.
Energy market of today is USD 6 trillion market and would rise to USD 9 trillion in the next 30-40 years.
“It is the mother of all markets,” he said.
In his speech, Kerry also extended support for Modi’s plan for renewable energy including solar power.
Today, Kerry would co-chair the inaugural India US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue along with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker; External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Entrepreneurship and innovation – those are the areas that will grow our economies, but also an area that requires strong talent and a continual commitment to foster a strong business environment, USIBC president Mukesh Aghi said.
“To achieve this end a crucial step is being taken to launch US Business Centers in India to support the entry of US small and mid-sized companies, universities, and skills providers into the market,” he said.
Commerce Secretary Pritzker called for more economic reforms by New Delhi.
“We commend the Prime Minister and his government on this progress. However, even with these positive steps, India is only America’s 11th largest trading partner and 18th largest export market. Our commercial relationship has simply not lived up to its enormous potential,” she said.
Speaking at the event, she said, “We have known this for decades. But today, given the headwinds in the global economy, neither of us can afford this under-performance any longer. We must take action to address the impediments to growth faced by our businesses and our economies.And we can only succeed by working together,” the Commerce Secretary said.
Yesterday, the India US CEOs Forum held a meeting. “In fact, the CEO Forum has already established an aggressive work-plan for the future because they, like our political leaders, see the potential of the commercial relationship and appreciate the importance of this moment,” she said.
“By working toward these goals tomorrow, by working in close partnership in the months and years to come, we have an extraordinary opportunity,” she said. (PTI)

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