The 27th Annual General Meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in India was held on April 26th, 2019 at the Hotel Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The theme of the event was ‘AMCHAM India: Enhancing the U.S.-India Economic Partnership.’ The meeting was chaired by Mr. Krish Iyer, Chairperson, AMCHAM India and President & CEO, Walmart India.
Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM, welcomed participants and presented the Annual Report. She highlighted the important events organized by AMCHAM during the year. The Annual Report was unanimously adopted.
Mr. Krish Iyer, in his opening remarks, said that he it was an honour for him to be the chairperson for AMCHAM India for the past year and during his tenure he had seen the U.S.- India relationship strengthening of the strategic and defense ties and bilateral trade and the first U.S.-India 2+2 Dialogue, the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue and the reconstituted U.S.-India CEOs Forum.
The Chairperson thanked Ms. Ranjana Khanna and the secretariat for organizing a wonderful AGM and for the efforts put in throughout the year. He also thanked all board members for sharing his responsibility and he thanked Mr. Robert Garverick and Ms. Aileen Nandi of the U.S. Embassy for their great support.
Mr. Atul Dhawan Honorary Secretary and Treasurer presented the audited accounts of AMCHAM for the year 2018-19 for adoption and it was approved by Mr. Phil Shaw, Chief Executive – India, Lockheed Martin India and seconded by Sanjay Kaul, Chairman & Managing Director, Timken India Limited. Ms. Ranjana Khanna placed the following resolution for appointment of M/s. Walker Chandiok & Co. LLP, Chartered Accountants as the Statutory and Tax Auditors of the American Chamber of Commerce in India for the financial year 2019-20, which was duly approved by Mr. Atul Dhawan, Chief Strategy Officer, Deloitte India and seconded by Mr. Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, IBM India.
Ms. Ranjana Khanna announced the composition of the National Executive Board of AMCHAM for 2019-20.
- Rekha M. Menon, Chairman and Senior Managing Director, Accenture in India
- Sanjay Bhutani, Managing Director – India & SAARC, Bausch & Lomb India
- Ravinder Dang, Managing Director., Baxter (India) Pvt. Ltd.
- Salil Gupte, President, Boeing India
- Rajesh Janey, President & Managing Director – Enterprise India, Dell EMC
- Atul Dhawan, Chief Strategy Officer & National Leader, Brand and Communications, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP
- Som Satsangi, Managing Director, Hewlett Packard Enterprise India
- Arun M. Kumar, Chairman and CEO, KPMG in India
- Phil Shaw, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin India Private Limited
Nominees from the Regions:
Mr. Sanjay Koul
Chairman & Managing Director
Timken India Limited
Mr. Iqbal Sait
Head of EMEA Operations
Saggezza India Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Rajan Aiyer
Managing Director – Trimble India & SAAARC Region
Trimble Information Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Ramkumar Ramamoorthy
Executive Director, India
Cognizant Technology Solution
Mr. Karan Bajwa
MD and RGM India & South Asia
IBM India Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Palash Roy Chowdhury
Managing Director – Pratt & Whitney
United Technologies Corporation India Pvt. Limited
Mr. Shashidhar Reddy
Vice President – Engineering
Qualcomm India Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Abhishek Tomar
S&P Capital IQ (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Debdas Sen
TCG Digital Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Gulshan Kumar Sachdev
Quaker Chemical India Limited
Ms. Ursula Thakkar
Managing Director, South Asia
Lubrizol Advanced Materials India Pvt. Ltd.
Ms. Kaku Nakhate
President & Country Head, India
Bank of America N.A.
Immediate Past Chairperson:
Mr. Krish Iyer, President & CEO, Walmart India
Mr. J. Robert Garverick, Minister Counselor for Economic, Environment, Science and Technology Affairs
Ms. Aileen Nandi, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, are the Honorary Members
The statutory AGM concluded with the presentation of 10 years’ service recognition awards to Mr. L.N. Agarwal and Mr. Chittaranjan Das by Mr. Arun M. Kumar, Vice Chair, AMCHAM and Chairman & CEO, KPMG in India.
The inaugural session of AMCHAM’s AGM began with welcome remarks and an introduction of the esteemed speakers by Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM India, followed by opening remarks by Mr. Krish Iyer, Chairperson, AMCHAM and President & CEO, Walmart India. In his remarks he touched upon the shared values and similar challenges that both countries faced and reaffirmed the strides in the U.S.-India partnership in defense. Mr. Iyer talked about how U.S. companies have made significant commitments in India through aerospace, defense, financial services, banking and e-commerce. He thanked the Embassy for all their efforts to support U.S. industry in India.
Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster, U.S. Ambassador to India delivered the keynote address, in which he recognized the hard work put in by the American business community to strengthen the U.S.-India economic partnership. He also talked about the importance for both countries to play a role in the Indo-Pacific.
Ambassador Dr. S. Jaishankar, former Foreign Secretary, GOI, in his address, explained the transformation of Indo American relations over the last twenty years and emphazied the change in mindset was visible on the economic side. In reflecting on the causes of the transformation of the relationship he outlined the end of the Cold War which expanded political and security partnerships. He also touched upon the removal of geo political differences and the larger societal feelings between counties, such as the Indian diaspora in the U.S., that has resulted in increasing appreciation. Ambassador Jaishankar discussed how digitization was central to India’s growth process and how a new equilibrium would emerge in different sectors.
Ms. Ranjana Khanna released AMCHAM’s coffee table book ‘Investing in People – Changing Lives: U.S. Companies in India’ which showcased the stories of how our members impact people pan India, whether through training, re-skilling, education, medical assistance, women’s empowerment initiatives, encouraging entrepreneurship or CSR endeavours across multiple sectors. The photo exhibition of the same was displayed in the prefunction area.
Ambassador Juster, Ambassador Jaishankar and Mr. Arun M. Kumar, Vice Chair, AMCHAM and Chairman & CEO, KPMG in India, released the book which would be presented to the new government to showcase the good work done by U.S. companies.
Mr. Arun M. Kumar thanked both Ambassadors for their optimistic messages and emphasized that trade and investment was strong between both countries. He talked about how critical it was to integrate supply chains and participate in India’s strategic infrastructure development.
Industry 4.0: Smart Manufacturing
The next session ‘Industry 4.0: Smart Manufacturing’ featured a keynote address by Mr. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. Mr. Som Satsangi, Managing Director, Hewlett Packard Enterprise India, introduced the Secretary and all the panellists. Mr. Satsangi pointed out how Industry 4.0 would humanize machines and usher in AI thus having the potential to change the way we live and work. He set the scene to focus on three themes, feasibility of smart manufacturing in India, developing smart manufacturing and the scalability of it.
In his keynote address, Mr. Ramesh Abhishek mentioned that the Government of India has worked hard to make India investor friendly and thanks U.S. companies for their support. He was hopeful that some of the challenges that remain could be faced with the latest technology and modernization. The manufacturing sector was 17% of the GDP. He talked about how industry 4.0 could benefit India and how larger companies could help smaller companies adapt technologies. He requested industry to provide inputs on skilling and reskilling.
Mr. Som Satsangi moderated the session with panellists: Mr. Salil Gupte, President, Boeing India, Mr. Amit Bansal, Co-Chair – Manufacturing Committee, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Corning India and Mr. Sudhir Shenoy, CEO, Dow Chemical International.
Mr. Sudhir Shenoy talked about the substantial progress that India has made in the past few years. He mentioned that standards and regulations were a challenge, that internal standards were compliant but often not in line with government standards. Now days everything can be done digitally making it is easy to detect violations, but it doesn’t always work in the real world, hence, he noted, upgrading the acts and policies to make it 4.0 relevant was important. Mr. Shenoy said Dow has the world’s largest engineering capability in India and applauded India’s intellect and capabilities but the challenge with approvals for operation has persisted.
Mr. Amit Bansal pointed out that one of the challenges of industry 4.0 was data and how to convert data into insights. Some companies have decades of data that they struggle to make use of. He talked about how people would adapt and learn skills to do their job but also how to work with machines. With industry 4.0 some jobs would be lost, some jobs would need reskilling and encourage industry to work closely with academia to ensure classroom lessons were true to the reality of industry.
Mr. Salil Gupte discussed, from a security perspective, how each country varies on how to handle data. He emphasized that the closer partnership between U.S. and India was helpful in unlocking capabilities for smart solutions. He also talked about how smart solutions can help manage the production side to offer customized offerings to customers. He gave an example about how airplanes need individual parts and how smart solutions can the necessary parts at individual locations in the supply chain and provide customers better services without delay.
Secretary Ramesh Abhishek said the government understood the importance of data security and privacy and were working on data privacy laws. He also said that people were ready to adopt technologies and that not adopting technology was not an option. He discussed that reskilling by industries was important and that the government needed to also chip in. He said that investors should be able to know the speed at which approvals come in each state and the government was looking into a way to rank states.
Trade Winds Indo Pacific 2019
Ms. Aileen Nandi, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy, gave an overview of Trade Winds Indo Pacific. The 2019 U.S. Commercial Service Trade Winds program would include an Indo-Pacific focused business forum in New Delhi, India consisting of regional and industry specific conference sessions as well as pre-arranged consultations with U.S. Diplomats representing commercial markets throughout the region. It would also feature individual matchmaking based on input from their Commercial Specialists throughout the region, and bring together potential buyers, agents, distributors and joint-venture partners in the following Indian cities on May 8-10: New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata.
Reskilling for the Future
The next session ‘Reskilling for the Future’ featured a keynote by Dr. Sunita Sanghi, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Skill and Entrepreneurship. She discussed the impact of technology in everyday life and how these can be addressed by the ever-changing ecosystem. There was a gap between what industries need and what education has been able to give. The current education system was producing people with very little industry connect. She emphasized the need of the hour was to have a strong industry institute where industry can shape curriculum or have an industrial partner in the form of an industrial training institute. Industry needs to provide work space to education institutes to have a hands-on understanding on how industries work. Unless and until there is industry linkage, there will always be a significant gap.
Mr. Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, IBM India, welcomed Dr. Sanghi and all other panellists. The other panellists were Ms. Rekha Menon, Chairman and Senior Managing Director, Accenture in India and Mr. Phil Shaw, Chief Executive – India, Lockheed Martin India.
Mr. Bajwa observed that skills were a top priority in the government and that technology was an enabler for industry while being seen as both a transformative tool and a disruption of employment at the same time. He said there was a huge opportunity to reskill the workforce and this could be ensured by imparting this early in the education system. He mentioned that close to 54% work population who are graduating were found to be unemployable due to skill mismatch and only 10% were certified as a match for the skills they possess. There was a need to put systems in place where people are trained for what they need to possess. Mr. Bajwa said, in the labour market, about 80% children drop out before the tenth standard and before completing their secondary education. While commenting on the labour market being dualistic in nature, he said, on one hand there was an organized centre, while on the other it was difficult to map the skill requirements. Apprentice programs by higher education centres to reskill graduates entering the labour market was a key for success in this direction
Ms. Rekha Menon mentioned that soft skills were the most critical aspect of training as part of the reskilling process. Building and imparting new skills was hugely imperative and the need of the hour. She said that this was a huge business opportunity because a good share of talent lies in India. The key lies in finding a balance between reskilling and refreshing the workforce. Reskilling remains more important because only a skilled workforce can be refreshed. Though it largely depends on an individual’s capabilities, there were areas that need to be automated which would lead to creation of new opportunities. The transition of skills in people shifts from how this could be viewed as an opportunity and not as a job loss with the advent of technology. Creating a platform where skills were needed which highlighted what was already available would be useful. Throwing away the old learning framework and drafting a new one in line with current requirements would be the key to success.
Mr. Phil Shaw felt that the government should incentivize industry for skilling yet on the other hand if this was an individual company’s priority then how could it be institutionalized? The SHREYAS initiative by the government was a program conceived for students in degree courses, primarily non-technical, with a view to introduce employable skills into their learning, promote apprenticeship as integral to education and amalgamate employment facilitating efforts of the government into the education system so that clear pathways towards employment opportunities were available to students during and after their graduation. He said that colleges and higher education institutes should introduce apprentice programs and allow people to take courses according to this. When Lockheed Martin began operations in India there were no skilled staff in defense so they needed to train people who could do the job. As a result, Lockheed Martin was successful in creating a skilled ecosystem within the last ten years. In India, the people were a lot younger, eager and created a dynamic workforce of high quality which turned out to be advantageous. Lockheed Martin also encouraged women to attend skills development programs and join industries and continues to work across the country to engage more women in aviation, work with women in villages and bring them into the main workforce.
Ms. Sanghi, in closing stated that there should be one central competency skill level across all states and for that a smart portal has been put in place. When the policy on skills development was drafted the focus was on inclusion. Policy since 2015 was not only on creating demand, but on continued lifelong learning, counselling and mobilizing the youth. Industry should work together with academia to skill labour as per what is needed and essential for their upliftment.
U.S.-India Partnership: The Road Ahead
This session featured a candid conversation between Ms. Indrani Bagchi, Senior Diplomatic Editor, Times of India and former Indian Ambassadors to the U.S. —- Ambassador Meera Shankar and Ambassador Arun Kumar Singh. While expressing her views, Ambassador Shankar shared that despite occasional surprises India has managed well with the Trump administration. She stated that the growing strategic partnership was propelled given the increasing converging interest in Asia particularly with how both countries manage the rise of an increasing assertive China. Another area of common concern was terrorism and the intent to reduce and eliminate terrorism.
Both Ambassador Arun Kumar Singh and Ambassador Shankar opined that there was a growing dissonance on the trade and economic front from both countries. On India’s position on data localization and e-commerce and GSP, Ambassador Singh stated that similar dialogues were happening in some other countries too and the issue could be addressed keeping in view the interest of each side. On the e-commerce sector it was felt that given the deep base of people involved and the impact on jobs and livelihoods in India, feasible discussions should be sought.
On GSP the opinion was, giving preference to any one country was not recommended and an approach of common policy for trade relations across countries would be best suited. If India makes concessions it would expect concessions from the U.S. too. The view was the best way to work around any challenges was to look at synergies and economic and strategic convergence. On the issue of technology and it’s impact on strategic partnership between the U.S. and India the opinion was that India should take a strategic view of 5G and make choices accordingly since it would have an enormous footprint on a range of related activities. On security relations the view was that the relationship had come a long way but could be strengthened further. It was felt that in the Indo-Pacific area there was growing convergence given the impact of a rising China.
In closing Ms. Bagchi thanked the panelists and said that we were likely to see action in all these areas post the elections and the formation of the new government.
Vision for the Future of the U.S.-India Partnership
For the final session, ‘Vision for the Future of the U.S. – India Partnership,’ Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon’ble Former President of India was the chief guest. At the onset Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM India and Mr. Atul Dhawan, Honorary Secretary &Treasurer, AMCHAM and Chief Strategy Officer, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, warmly welcomed the hon’ble chief guest while expressing the honour and gratitude to him gracing AGM with his presence. Mr. Atul Dhawan spoke of the strategic U.S.-India with a special reference to the increasing bilateral trade and investments of the two countries across both nations. He also mentioned how the Indo-Pacific region has been playing an instrumental role in the much-valued relationship of India and the U.S.
Mr. Krish Iyer, Chairperson, AMCHAM, briefly summarized the day’s proceedings and put it in the right context for the benefit of Shri Mukherjee. The discussions through the day brought to light that there exists untold potential in the U.S.-India partnership given the growth in the relationship over the past two decades. India has emerged as the most attractive and the sought-after destination with a lot in common between the largest and the oldest democracies especially the cultural values and transparency. The bilateral opportunities offer not just avenues for economic collaboration but also opportunities for partnering in India’s inclusive growth and avenues to work on multilateral platforms.
The Hon’ble chief guest Shri Pranab Mukherjee started by sharing his wonderful journey that started 50 years ago when he entered the magnificent building of the Parliament House. He expressed gratitude to AMCHAM for inviting him to make an address at AGM. He made a special mention of the strong commonalities between the two countries with a few of them being ethics, systems, strong civil society, informative media and responsive citizens. He shared several anecdotes from history and politics which have laid the road map for echoing democratic values and growing relations between the two countries. He shared that since the day of India’s independence, the U.S. was the largest investor and technical collaborator with India. There has been huge development since the last three and half decades particularly since there has been massive liberalization and deregulation in India. He spoke of how he steered the foreign regulation act in the 70’s and how nineteen years later he strongly advocated for portfolio investment from foreign companies. He shared his interest to mention these milestones and perceptions with the distinguished members of AMCHAM who presently play an important role in building and fostering a closer relationship between India and the U.S. He also spoke of the specific areas where collaborations have been significant which included healthcare, technology, smart cities, agriculture, infrastructure and energy. He expressed that sustainable growth cannot take place in silos, it should be orderly and inclusive.
The Honb’le Former President also shared his personal experience and involvement in the landmark signing of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the U.S. He shared another personal anecdote on how quick decision and personal responses took place during the signing of the Defense Framework Cooperation Agreement. In closing he urged the distinguished guests that we must build a positive and proactive cooperation between the two countries which can influence the international scenario to a considerable extent. With much gratitude Ms. Ranjana Khanna thanked the Hon’ble Former President for his valuable address and concluded AGM.