The United States is driven by contradictions and by issues which remain unsettled, and the presidential election outcome there would make no difference to India-US business, said Mohandas Pai, former director of Infosys, and Arun Maira, former member of Planning Commission, in conversation with Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express and author and senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai on TNIE’s Expressions, a series of live webcasts with people who matter.
The dynamics of ties between the two countries are decided by their business relations and not by elections, the speakers discussed. There is a need for ‘de-Americanisation’ of Indian thinking in terms of policies, they said. “Trump has shown America for what it is. There is misogyny, racism, hatred of immigrants...there is rise of the new Left. As far as India is concerned, India is in the periphery but is becoming more important because of China,” said Pai.
“We must know how to make use of America for our own good.” Indians do not matter for American politicians, he added. “We are not important in the world at all. The way for us to grow is to work with global powers.” Indian industry and Indian economists have adopted American standards as the ‘world class’ standard and follow their trajectory. “We have come to this stage where we are worrying now about jobs and our own defence with China...To buy stuff, people need to have jobs or incomes.
But we have not made our citizens employable. So, investors ask where is the market is in India,” said Maira. “Real economics for the real people for the real place has to be building their lives. It has to be ease of living and not ease of doing business. Ease of doing business, we do it with the World Bank’s framework. Ease of doing business from the perspective of a foreign investor is an American mindset. It has to be from the people’s perspective,” he added.
Asked how the India-America relations would play out, Maira said, “It would make no difference whether Indians run American companies or Americans run American companies. It would make no difference whether Kamala Harris of Indian origin or Nikki Haley, also of Indian origin, becomes the next President. There are some fundamental forces that have made US foreign policies for decades.
That President is going to be under great pressure from business to push US business interests in India.” The monopolisation of intellectual property rights is driven by the strategy of the US companies, he added. Asked if Infosys, which was a pioneer of global connectivity, could dictate the terms, Pai said, “There is technology assimilation. All Indian companies are small compared as compared to Apple. They have got America behind them. We do not have the capital and the availability of market.”Indians going abroad are often on projects and are not ‘immigrants’, said Pai. “Because of Covid-19, people can work from everywhere; visa has become less important. But for India, having people go and work in the first world environment is very good.”