Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States has provided an extraordinary opportunity that deserves our attention.  At a time when the world seems beset by troubles, we have the chance to elevate relations between the U.S. and India to a new level – a new level that can benefit the citizens of both nations for decades to come.

Diane FarrellThe Modi government came into office this spring with the overwhelming support of Indian voters and the promise of job creation and economic growth – of less government and more governance. The information technology sectors of the U.S. and India have already demonstrated how both nations can benefit from collaboration and the exchange of products, services and intellectual talent. Today, 10 of the top 15 tech companies operating in India are American. And many of those companies are working to train and mentor people to become future entrepreneurs, IT professionals and students in STEM education programs.

To provide vital operational support to 96 percent of Fortune 500 companies and thousands of other American businesses, India-based IT services companies have invested more than $5 billion, created more than 280,000 jobs for Americans, and paid $15 billion in taxes to the U.S. Treasury in the last five years.  High-skilled IT professionals on temporary visas often augment the permanent U.S. employees of global IT service companies to support their customers’ in-house IT staff and management on major initiatives.  This gives U.S. businesses the specific type of support they require – where, when and only for as long as they need it – helping them innovate, enter markets, grow and create more American jobs.

No wonder that Secretary of State John Kerry commented in July, before the 2014 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, that “the dynamism and the entrepreneurial spirit of Mumbai and Bangalore, of Silicon Valley and of Boston – that is precisely what is required in order to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

Initial steps taken by Prime Minister Modi’s new government make this clear: India is open for business.  In the Strategic Dialogue, senior representatives of the U.S. and Indian government pledge to work together to address remaining issues such as taxation, intellectual property rights protection, FDI reforms, investment in infrastructure and manufacturing, and  the ease of doing business in India.  These talks have also produced encouraging signals for strategic cooperation in defense and other areas. 

The U.S. is not alone is recognizing the potential of closer relations with India.  On Sept. 1, Japan committed to double its private and public investment in India to $34 billion over the next five years – including a doubling of Japanese firms operating in India.  Visiting India on Sept. 17, China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to invest billions of dollars in India's railway, manufacturing and infrastructure projects.  More nations surely will follow.

India remains the world’s largest democracy with an increasingly well-educated and aspirational youth demographic, a steadily developing economy, and business sectors such as information technology in which India already is among global leaders.  India’s government and business leaders want “Made in India” to be the next established label, signifying excellence and value in globally-traded products.  And they want the U.S. to remove barriers to the free movement of individual professionals on temporary visas, such as the high-skilled IT specialists from India who provide support and services to American businesses and institutions.

The keys welcoming Prime Minister Modi and to improving U.S.-India relations are mutual respect, predictability and transparency.  If these fundamentals are consistently applied on subjects ranging from intellectual property protection for businesses in India to intellectual talent from India in the U.S., businesses in both nations will benefit, jobs will be created,  citizens will prosper, and the world’s democratic anchors in the East and the West will, together, provide increased stability, security, and balance.

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