Mukesh Aghi, president and CEO of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), told indica on the sidelines of the Fourth US-India Conference Sept 27 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s joint rally with President Donald Trump in Houston Sept 22 showed “the Indian diaspora is now a political force to be reckoned with” in the United States.
Aghi, who moderated the panel discussion on India: Economic Transformation for Sustainable Growth at the conference, said, “We have four million Indian Americans in the US, and [they form] the most affluent minority group.”
In the previous presidential election, only 14% of Indian Americans voted Republican, he said, and one of the reasons why Trump joined Modi on the stage in Houston was because he wants to change that. And Modi’s proclamation of “Abki baar Trump Sarkar” would definitely help, he said.
As for the outcome of the trade talks between India and the US, he said, “We cannot force another nation to take our professionals or have free trade.”
He characterized the large cut in corporation tax in India as “a great story. We have 40 CEOs and they were very positive on the tax cut and have committed to more investment [in India],” he said. “They are very optimistic about the growth story of India.”
Trump has been supportive of India, he said, and India in turn has been supportive of US interests and concerns. “We have stopped taking oil from Iran and Venezuela, and our intake from the US has gone up,” Aghi said. “In 2016 we were importing zero oil from the US, in 2017 it went up to 32 barrels a day, and now it is almost 140 barrels.
“It shows India is stepping up from the geopolitical perspective,” he said, adding that India is the only country apart from South Korea to cut its trade surplus with the US on a year-on-year basis.