USIBC Members Discuss Industry Priorities with Indian IT Minister, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad at Roundtable
Dialogue focused on PM Modi’s Startup India Action Plan, need for continued innovation and entrepreneurship in tech sector
February 5, 2016 – Cambridge, MA – The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) today hosted a roundtable discussion with Indian Union Minister for Communications & IT Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad. The roundtable was attended by USIBC President Mukesh Aghi and senior executives of American and Indian companies that included Google, AT&T, MasterCard, Facebook, American Tower Corporation, UST Global and iTech. The focus of the discussion was on the future of India as a technology powerhouse, Prime Minister Modi’s Startup India initiative as well as his directive to connect India’s 600,000 villages to the Internet through the Digital India program.
In his remarks, Minister Prasad said, “Digital India provides an enormous investment opportunity for both global technology companies and startups from tech hubs like Boston and Silicon Valley. India is sitting on the cusp of a digital revolution. Whether it is big metropolitan cities or small towns, a well-connected India has the potential to not only usher in economic and welfare opportunities for its citizens, but also the global economic order. Our government is taking every policy decision in a transparent, predictable and reasonable manner. Therefore, I encourage American businesses to take advantage of the Digital India program, and the growth opportunities in India.”
Minister Prasad also outlined the progress that has already been made to implement Digital India program and his priorities for the future.
USIBC President Dr. Mukesh Aghi said, “Prime Minister Modi’s directive to connect Indians across the country is a tremendous opportunity for both Indian and U.S. companies alike, and we encourage the development of policies that clear bureaucratic hurdles that may delay the implementation of achieving last-mile connectivity. 85% Indians still do not have access to the Internet. Therefore, to fill this gap the government could make it easier to obtain clearances to install cell phone towers. IT infrastructure can be further expanded by lifting the ban on foreign satellite operators so they can provide spectrum in hard-to-reach areas.”
Dr. Aghi and Minister Prasad were in Cambridge also to speak at the India Conference 2016 at Harvard Business School.
Dan Gupta of UST Global commented on the economic growth that can be spurred by the Digital India initiative and adoption of key technologies across sectors. “By some estimations, the Digital India initiative could help boost India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by an estimated $550 billion – upping its GDP by $1 trillion by 2025 – a historic growth that can only be fostered by encouraging cooperation between our two nations. This growth can be achieved if and only if the Government encourages start-ups and continues its path of creating a more open economy, improves ease of doing business at both central and state levels and reduces bureaucratic hurdles that act as deterrents to foreign investors. We applaud the government’s willingness to adopt a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance, which can go a long way in building a thriving digital economy.”
Sonny Khurana, CEO of iTech, praised the rapid strides in connectivity and the startup ecosystem under the current government. He stressed upon the importance of ease of doing business that can allow an individual to start a business with ease. Mr. Khurana emphasized, "Innovation and entrepreneurship are two sides of the same coin and both of these when aided by an enabling business environment will allow the economy to grow and create jobs for citizens. Industry commends the government's continued efforts on the passage of important economic reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill that will simplify the indirect tax regime. Such reforms can help companies like iTech expand operations and warehousing facilities in India." iTECH, headquartered in New York is a leader in global Distribution in the Telecom Sector, helping manufacturers take their products to over 45 emerging markets including India.
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