No More Opportune Time Than Now to Strengthen
Business Ties With India Says Chamber, Expert Panel
When the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce held a conference with experts speaking on the opportunities for trade and investment with India at a Galleria hotel, there weren’t enough seats to accommodate everyone who wanted to come.
The one-day meeting with the theme Think India-Think Harris County drew 220 people, many of who didn’t need to be told the Indian Economy is growing more than three times as fast as the U.S. economy.
“India is not an emerging economy. It has emerged,” said Latha Ramchand, associate dean for programs and administration and a professor of finance at the UH Bauer College of Business, and economist by training, paraphrasing President Obama’s words while on a recent visit to India. “The opportunities are humungous.”
“This year, General Motors now has more sales in India than the U.S.” said Ramchand, who moderated the day’s panel discussions on how to foster this two way relationship built on trade and investments.
The Indian economy is expected to grow by more than 9 percent this year, and it’s expected to continue to grow at nearly that rate for years to come as the country urbanizes and modernizes.
Harris County’s ties to India are strong – growing trade and investments running both ways, energy industry connections and 100,000 Indians who have immigrated here. Now there’s a growing interest in commercial ties.
“Two years ago it was not on the radar screen. There has been such a shift in the paradigm,” said Madhukar Prasad, president of the Indo-American Chamber. The Shell Retiree is now helping to teach a class at Bauer College in energy project management. Next year Bauer’s Global Energy Management Institute will kick off a program in India to teach energy executives.
“Houston is not doing enough.” said Jagdip Ahluwalia, executive director of the Indo-American Chamber.
During the meeting Ramchand arranged to have a graduate student record the proceeding with an eye toward creating an action plan with steps to encourage this budding relationship.
Members of the Indo-American Chamber were pushing hard that day to convince the Greater Houston Partnership to get involved in organizing another local trade mission to visit India early next year.
Jeff Moseley, the president of the Greater Houston Partnership, said the groups also need to push for direct air service from Houston to India.
The keynote speech of the day by Vik Malhotra, chairman of the Americas for McKinsey & Co., provided a handful of reasons — beyond the economic growth numbers — why India is going to be a “phenomenal opportunity” and a longer list of things of what it takes for a business to successfully compete in a business environment that requires adaptation.
Malhotra’s seven imperatives included installing strong, long-term leadership there, customizing products to suit local tastes, and being willing to make major changes to the way a company does business. Success there also can require scaling up the operation and hiring strong local talent and empowering them to use their knowledge to help the operation adapt.
Over time, he said Indian companies that have quietly established major operations in Houston — like Mahindra USA, the U.S. arm of the Indian maker of a large make of tractors and other vehicles — will become widely recognized brands.
“They have a rapidly growing private sector with global aspirations,” Malhotra said.