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American companies ready to take advantage of Digital India initiative

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Washington: The main focus of the roundtable hosted by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday was the India’s plan to connect 600,000 villagers through Digital India programme to internet. Top American and Indian companies are ready to take advantage of it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Startup India initiative also came up at the roundtable with Indian Minister for Communications & IT Ravi Shankar Prasad hosted by the USIBC.

The roundtable was attended by USIBC President Mukesh Aghi and senior executives of American and Indian companies that included Google, AT&T, MasterCard, Facebook, American Tower Corporation, UST Global and iTech.

USIBC comprises 350 top-tier US and Indian companies advancing US-India commercial ties.

“Digital India provides an enormous investment opportunity for both global technology companies and startups from tech hubs like Boston and Silicon Valley,” Prasad said.

“India is sitting on the cusp of a digital revolution,” he said. “Whether it is big metropolitan cities or small towns, a well-connected India has the potential to not only usher in economic and welfare opportunities for its citizens, but also the global economic order.”

The Indian “government is taking every policy decision in a transparent, predictable and reasonable manner,” Prasad said encouraging “American businesses to take advantage of the Digital India programme, and the growth opportunities in India.”

Prasad also outlined the progress that has already been made to implement Digital India programme and his priorities for the future.

Aghi said, “Prime Minister Modi’s directive to connect Indians across the country is a tremendous opportunity for both Indian and US companies alike.”

Noting that 85 percent of Indians still do not have access to the Internet, he said “the government could make it easier to obtain clearances to install cell phone towers.”

“IT infrastructure can be further expanded by lifting the ban on foreign satellite operators so they can provide spectrum in hard-to-reach areas.”

Dan Gupta of UST Global commented on the economic growth that can be spurred by the Digital India initiative and adoption of key technologies across sectors.

“By some estimations, the Digital India initiative could help boost India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by around $550 billion upping its GDP by $1 trillion by 2025,” he said.

Sonny Khurana, CEO of iTech, praised the rapid strides in connectivity and the startup ecosystem under the current government.(IANS)

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Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Fund Invested $1 Billion In An American Electric Car Manufacturer

Saudi Arabia's 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has talked about using the PIF to help diversify the economy of the kingdom.

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Derek Jenkins, VP of Design at Lucid Motors, introduces the alpha prototype of the Lucid Air at the 2017 New York International Auto Show in New York City. VOA

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund invested $1 billion Monday in an American electric car manufacturer just weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier claimed the kingdom would help his own firm go private.

Tesla stock dropped Monday on reaction to the news, the same day that the Saudi fund announced it had taken its first loan, an $11 billion borrowing from global banks as it tries to expand its investments.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund said it would invest the $1 billion in Newark, California-based Lucid Motors.

Lucid Motors
Lucid Motors. Flickr

The investment “will provide the necessary funding to commercially launch Lucid’s first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air, in 2020,” the sovereign wealth fund said in a statement. “The company plans to use the funding to complete engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Arizona, enter production for the Lucid Air to begin the global rollout of the company’s retail strategy starting in North America.”

Lucid issued a statement quoting Peter Rawlinson, its chief technology officer, welcoming the investment.

“At Lucid, we will demonstrate the full potential of the electric-connected vehicle in order to push the industry forward,” he said.

The decision comes after Musk on Aug. 7 tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. Investors pushed Tesla’s shares up 11 percent in a day, boosting its valuation by $6 billion.

Lucid Motors
Electric Car

There are multiple reports that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the disclosure, including asking board members what they knew about Musk’s plans. Experts say regulators likely are investigating if Musk was truthful in the tweet about having the financing set for the deal. Musk later said the Saudi Public Investment Fund would be investing in the firm, something Saudi officials never comment on.

Meanwhile Monday, the sovereign wealth fund known by the acronym PIF said it had taken its first loan, an $11 billion borrowing. It did not say how it would use the money, only describing it as going toward “general corporate purposes.”

Also Read: Electric Cars: The Newest Trend in India

The Las Vegas-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute estimates the Saudi fund has holdings of $250 billion. Those include a $3.5 billion stake in the ride-sharing app Uber.

Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has talked about using the PIF to help diversify the economy of the kingdom, which relies almost entirely on money made from its oil sales. (VOA)