Indian book of jobs in US: 60,000 and adding
WASHINGTON: Representatives of 25 Indian blue-chip companies, industry mavens, and diplomats gathered in the guts of the US Congress on Thursday to tell an economically-stricken America that they are "part of the solution, not part of the problem," and that they are creating jobs in the US, not taking them away.
In an extraordinary event that saw more than a dozen US lawmakers embrace Indian businesses in a room deep in the recesses of the US Senate, India Inc presented a checklist of what it was doing for America in troubled times: employing 60,000 people across 40 states, more than four-fifths hired locally; acquisitions worth nearly $6 billion since 2005; hiring thousands of fresh US college graduates; all with the cumulative effect of saving thousands of American jobs.
"Indian businesses remain committed to the US economy in terms of generating direct and indirect jobs to help in the ongoing recovery," said Kiran Pasricha, whose 16-year run as the face of Indian industry's lobbying effort in Washington DC, ending in June on her return to India, was topped off with a 100-page study titled "Indian Roots, American Soil," that examines the remarkable story of the rise of Indian companies in the US economy.
The study chronicles the value Indian companies such as Infosys, Wipro
, Larsen and Toubro, Ranbaxy, State Bank of India
, Essar, Bharat Forge
, HCL, Mindtree, Polaris, and the ever-present House of Tatas and House of Mahindra have brought to the US at a time of much American angst about free trade and flight of jobs. Reps of several of these companies stepped up to the plate to tell lawmakers of the jobs they were creating in their Congressional districts and states in an effort backed by the Indian ambassador Meera Shankar, whose understanding of US-India business dynamics goes back to her stint in Washington as the chief commercial official in the mid-90s.
The Indian claims were immediately endorsed by individual lawmakers, some of whom (like New Jersey's Frank Pallone
and Washington state's Jim McDermott
) are familiar India hands. But even legislators relatively new to India Inc's baby steps (but growing footprint) in America subscribed to the idea of recovery through Indian investment. Jean Schmidt
, an Ohio
Congresswoman, was among those who spoke of how a Tata investment in her constituency generated 450 jobs, saved a building from being gutted, and improved the tax base in her district.
It was the kind of positive sentiment that resulted in Congressman Ed Royce
) kicking off his remarks with a hearty "Jai Hind" at the meeting organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) over the unusual fragrance in the Senate building of kababs and samosas. America is hurting economically, and US politicians are happy only too happy to embrace help from any quarters, especially a country with democratic credentials and rule of law.
From Essar, whose $ 2.5 billion investment in America, including a $1.3 billion iron ore pellet plant in Minnesota
, employs 7000 Americans, to software firms such as L&T Infotech and Polaris (500 and 800 jobs respectively in Edison, New Jersey
), Indian companies pitched their wares to US lawmakers all too receptive to Indian investment.
Royce, a co-chair of the India Caucus, spoke feelingly about the kind of "one-way relationship" US business were having with China
, a country that he said offered a poorer rate of returns on investment when compared to India, as he pushed for investment also in the other direction – US businesses going into India. The general sentiment of the evening was that, many minor wrinkles aside, the United States
and India were onto a win-win situation in terms of two-way trade and commerce, and there is need to keep the doors open rather than closing them.