July 24, 2013. U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden met prominent Indian business leaders Wednesday afternoon, shortly after delivering a speech at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, during his four-day visit to the country.
Mr. Biden held discussions with Ratan Tata, the former Chairman of the Tata Group, Azim Premji, who heads India’s leading Information Technology company Wipro, Pratyush Kumar, the President of Boeing in India, and four other business leaders.
The discussions, which took place at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai and lasted nearly an hour, were “full and frank,” Mr. Biden said after they concluded.
“There was an honest discussion about how both governments – the Indian government as well – could be productive in reducing trade barriers that have an impact on trade and commerce,” he added.
In recent months, U.S. businesses and members of Congress have written several letters to the U.S. government, complaining that India’s policies “distort” trade and investment and “discourage” innovation.
They are particularly upset by a “buy India” mandate, which requires a high percentage of technology goods in the country to be manufactured locally, and recent Indian decisions that deny patent protections for drugs in order to benefit India’s generic drug companies.Mr. Bi
den said after Wednesday’s meeting with business heads that India and the United States are “not at odds on any strategic objective,” but need to find ways to take the Indo-U.S. relationship forward.
“We mean what we say when we say that the relationship between India and the U.S. has unlimited potential and there is no reason why trade, commerce and intercourse between our countries can’t increase exponentially over time,” he said.
Mr. Biden emphasized that both sides share a common goal: empowering the middle classes. The U.S. is focused on “reinforcing the middle class” with good jobs, better access to healthcare and opportunities for a dignified retirement, he said, while India hopes to “generate the largest middle class in the history of humanity” to deal with poverty and raise standards of living.
The other leaders at the meeting included Kaku Nakhate, who is the head of Bank of America in India, Aslesha Gowariker, a lawyer at Desai & Diwanji, Siraj Chaudhry, of agribusiness giant Cargill India and Ashwini Kakkar of Mercury Travels.