It is Modi’s birthday today and the talk in town is you are here to give him a gift (visa). Your reaction to this?
(Laughs) I think you are aware that there is no change to our policy. As with anyone who applies for American visa we treat the application at that time in accordance with US laws and regulations. That applies to everyone.
Did you meet him this time?
No, I did not.
I believe you met him earlier
I have met him twice earlier. Once at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit and before that at the launch of the Solar Park where a number of US companies have made investments. We have had a conversation about how to improve business relations between the US and India.
In view of the Washington Navy Yard Shooting incident, we would like to know why US is so resistant to gun control
This is a very very complicated answer. It has to do with our Constitution. The founding document of our country and the rights and responsibilities of citizens are contained therein. And one of the amendments, part of the bill of rights is rights to bear firearms.
And so, it is a constitutional right in the US one for which, there are some restrictions. This was a very controversial issue and we protect that right at the same time protect the right of others.
US has been the model market economy state and now ‘Obama Care’ is a move atypical of a welfare state. India is facing a similar debate. What is your take on Obama care and the way ahead for developing economies like India?
There is always a trade-off between figuring out how you approach business and how you promote economic development and how you take care of the poorest, least managed people in the society.
In this case, with Obama Care, people looked at our country and saw that there were 40 million people without healthcare insurance. As a leading industrial nation we, our Congress, decided that was not appropriate and we needed to take action and provide basic level of healthcare insurance to everyone.
Obviously we are still in the information stage of that and it is an enormous project but something that is very important to the US and in the long run for our competitive business.
As for the question on way ahead for developing economies, I wouldn’t presume to tell countries how they should run their country. I know this is a big debate here whether you focus on pro-growth model or pro-poor model. I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive. The balance that you choose is the one that depends on each individual country’s circumstances. But the real answer is that you need some element of both or you can’t succeed. Can’t exclusively be one or the other either. You won’t be able to pay for it or you won’t be able to grow.
US is focusing more on exports to India. India too is eyeing increase in exports to US. How do you see a balance in that?
They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There is the opportunity for India to continue to export to US and at the same time continue to import from US. The reality is that the product mix is different.
India exports tremendous amount of service to US fruits and raw materials and imports lots of elements, services and the two can continue to grow independent of each other. Since 2000, the level of bilateral trade between the two countries has increased five-fold and this year it is expected to exceed $100 billion and there is no reason why this can’t grow more and help the two countries.
Which are the other services where you see scope for US to export to India?
There are tremendous amount of services that US is very good at exporting design, engineering, lots of specialised machinery and products that can contribute to Indian manufacturing. There are lots of medical goods and devices that US exports, which are very competitive and also in the entire energy sector there are lots of US products.
How do you see Gujarat as an investment destination?
I think I will let American companies tell you that story. There are lots of American companies that come here to Gujarat. A lot of US companies are choosing Gujarat as a location and certainly they are doing it because they find it attractive.
US Consulate to hold presentation on visa application process
Each year, about 2,00,000 Indians apply for US visas. In a bid to explain visa process and more, consular officials from the US Consulate General, Mumbai, will deliver a presentation in Ahmedabad on the nonimmigrant visa application process.
In addition to explaining the visa process, they also will provide information on how travellers can avoid being victimized by fraud or immigration scams. The event is scheduled for Wednesday at Ahmedabad Management Association. It is free of charge and open to the public, stated the note.