Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal launches ICAI San Francisco initiatives

Ritu Jha–

India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal on Wednesday launched the ‘US-India Trade Desk’, ‘Catalyze (a chartered accountants-focused newsletter) and ‘EmpowerHER Network’ to acknowledge women chartered accountants in the US. He was present at the ‘Charting New Horizons: CAs as Catalysts in the US-India Partnership’ event hosted by the San Francisco Chapter of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI San Francisco) on November 15 in Palo Alto, California.

Vish Arunachalam, founder, chairman, and director of ICAI San Francisco chapter(left) talking with India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.

Vish Arunachalam, founder, chairman, and director of ICAI San Francisco chapter told indica, “The minister inspires us to unite and where he calls us to act we take it very seriously and act on it.”

The US-India Trade Desk will have an office in New Delhi as well. Arunachalam said, “The need was felt with growing US-India engagement.”

He said the trade desk will assist US-based chartered accountants who require help from Indian government authorities, and ministries. The ICAI Trade Desk in New Delhi will take phone calls and channel requests to respective ministries.

About EmpowerHER Network, Arunachalam told indica, “The program is part of the institute’s celebration of Women Champions’ Excellence. Ten women CAs across the USA will be part of this group. The program will offer help, guidance, and contacts to women CAs. The EmpowerHER Network will act as a torch bearer and offer guidance and support to woman Chartered Accountants arriving in the USA.”


Sudha Michel, vice-chairperson at ICAI on the formation of EmpowerHER Network USA by various US chapters of ICAI told indica, “It demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting gender equity, empowering women CAs, and providing support to excel in their careers.”

 “We had a role model like the late CA Geetha Ramakrishnan, she was a strategic thinker with a powerful voice, and has left a lasting impact, ” Michel said. “EmpowerHER Network USA not only recognizes the achievements of women CAs, but also creates a support system by building a network of mentorship and a platform for sharing experiences. I hope it becomes a model for similar initiatives in other countries.”

During the event, Vineet Malhotra, Startup Advisor at Berkeley Skydeck announced, a selection of four chartered accountant-founded startups as part of its first cohort in the presence of Goyal.

Malhotra told indica, “We wanted to test the model and ensure that there is quality over quantity. All four are founded by Indians, and our condition is that one of the founders should be a chartered accountant.”

“It’s a diverse range of companies,” Malhotra said. “One is based in the US and the other three are from India. The startup ecosystem has evolved and so we see investments flowing in both directions, not just Silicon Valley spending in India.”

Pawan Singh, an healthcare entrepreneur whose startup MyIsha Data Sciences focuses on AI for radiology products, told indica, “I believe in Made in India for India. I was excited to hear the minister’s words. He is part of CAstartups and they would be mentoring us to go to the next step.

Arunachalam also announced the launch of the quarterly ICAI San Francisco Chapter’s newsletter Catalyze.

Minister Goyal, himself a CA, commended the San Francisco chapter of ICAI for putting together a startup website “very quickly and initiating progress.” Goyal told the gathering that “there is clearly a shortage not only of chartered or certified accountants in the US but across the world”.

“In India today there is a lack of adequate CAs. I don’t know whether fewer students are coming into this profession. I like Prime Minister Modi’s idea of encouraging children to work in this profession in India in a way that adds to India’s economy in two ways — we earn foreign exchange for the services provided from there and whatever your expenditures are in the US, operating costs in our country are much less. It is an economically viable proposition. And whatever the people earn there, the taxes will be collected in India, they will spend for themselves and their families in India and create assets and savings in India. That’s going to be good for the country,” he added.

He encouraged the chartered accountants in the US to identify Indian students and nurture them from a young age to become CAs.

“I do believe that there’s a lot that each one of us can do in terms of helping children back home. Each one of you would be coming from someplace in the remote parts of Indian states like Orissa, Punjab, Bihar, and Gujarat. Don’t go into charities and don’t go into calculating what money you are spending, instead choose students and nurture them from a young age possibility to become CAs and imagine the satisfaction you will get.”

He also pointed at government programs like Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna, and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna to say that there are multifarious ways “in which you can help a family unit come up in life.”

Goyal urged Indian Americans to keep connected “with your motherland and keep visiting. When you go there, buy Indian goods. Buy goods made by a weaver, a handicraft, or a khadi producer. Because every product that you buy made in India, made by a small artisan helps that family also. Make in India is not just a slogan, it’s for all of us to contribute to.”

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