At Stanford University’s ‘The India Dialog’, a deep dive into the country’s post-pandemic economy

From Left: Richard Dasher, Bibey Debroy, Arvind Virmani and Amit Kapoor

Ritu Jha-

Indian economy, post-pandemic, was put under the scanner by a panel of eminent academics and diplomats of the US and India at The India Dialog session for 2023 organized by US-Asia Technology Management Center and Institute for Competitiveness held at Stanford University on February 23 and 24, 2023.

The theme was ‘The Indian Economy 2023: Innovation, Competitiveness and Social Progress,’ and the sessions included keynote talks from Bibek Debroy, who spoke on “Factors behind India’s recent Economic and Social Progress: The impact of Government Policies”; and Arvind Virmani, member, NITI Aayog, spoke about “India’s Rise from Emerging Economy to Developed Country,” panel discussions, Nancy Izzo Jackson, who flew from Washington DC and spoke on “What the Indian Economy Means for the U.S.”

The fireside chats included topics such as the impact of government policies, district and regional economic and social progress, labor force transformation, education and healthcare reform, water governance, entrepreneurial innovation, manufacturing and international engagement with Silicon Valley and the U.S.

A few lauded Apple expansion in India would attract more companies to manufacture others felt that India lack skills, to Modi’s interest in cancer cure innovation and agri tech.

During the event, a working paper by Stanford University and Institute for Competitiveness titled ‘Healing the Economy: Estimating the Economic Impact on India’s vaccination and related issues’ was also released.

The paper is authored by Dr Amit Kapoor, lecturer, and chairman Institute for Competitiveness at Stanford University and Dr Richard Dasher, Director of the US-Asia Technology Management Centre, Stanford University.

It discusses the role of containment as a measure to prevent the spread of Covid 19. It elaborates the three cornerstones of India’s strategy – containment, relief package, and vaccine administration that were critical in saving lives and ensuring economic activity by containing the spread of COVID-19, sustaining livelihoods, and developing immunity against the virus.

Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, and Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, Government of India both attended virtually.

Dr Richard Dasher, Director US-Asia Technology Management Center, at Stanford University, spoke to indica about hosting the event and going forward.

“The India Dialog is the initiation of a news series of major
conferences. For us, this is a major conference. We had about 150 people, and 40 speakers, many of them from India. This scale of effort has not been attempted for a while. We think it’s the right time to do it because India is at an inflection point. And India means a great deal to the Silicon Valley community,” said Dasher.

“I’ve always been interested in technology. What we’ve been looking at is technology-driven innovation. We’re interested in the broader prospect of problem driven innovation. And a lot of what we have are new approaches to solving problems at a scale that are amazing to somebody like me. We’re very happy to have this kind of a focus to work with Dr. Kapoor, who focuses on competitiveness. Between his work on competitiveness and my work on innovation, I think we have kind of an unusual approach to looking at India,” he added.

Dasher feels this is the time for India, and most economies are willing to look at alternatives to China. He said, “China is in a more and more difficult situation with the United States. I think that a lot of the excitement about China really happened between about 2003 when they joined the World Trade Organization and 2012 when Xi Jinping took over. Since then we’ve seen kind of a lot of interest in China, but it’s more and more difficult to cooperate with partners there. So now India is benefiting from sort of reshaping supply chains. India is benefiting on the security side from a much closer relationship with America than ever before. And I think that on the broad business and cultural level, there’s a lot of interest in India right now.”

“India has a very large community in the US and many of them have been here for years. And a lot of the Indian people here came to students, they studied in American universities and then they’ve really built a lot of Silicon Valley as part of the American workforce. We haven’t really seen what’s going on in India that much. I think people were dimly aware of Infosys and Wipro, but now I think that we’re seeing much more interest in these apps that work across borders. It’s really a different world just in the last few years,” he added.

He said the interest in India is “very high.” He said, “During The India Dialog I showed a slide about the amount of venture capital investment in India. A majority of the investments involves American investors. That doesn’t mean exclusively American investors. But the majority of deals about venture capital in India involve people on this side of the Pacific. This shows how important they are to the community here.”

He added that the government of India, Dasher has been great at getting things done. That came out from a lot of the presentations at our conference. I was directly involved in the study of the economic impact of the COVID vaccination program in India. To be able to deliver two billion doses of vaccine within 18 months is more than 10 times as much as the United States can do. Of course, there were more than four times as many people. But I think that the kind of scale you see in India is just amazing to me.”

Dasher said, “As an educator, and this goes down to the foundational level, I feel it is important to see each student and try to give them multiple avenues for success and let them pick the one that matches their personality the best. Because not everyone should be an IT specialist.”

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