Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission lauded the contributions of Indians and Indian-Americans to the high-tech revolution in the United States.
Addressing the U.S. India Business Council March 29, in Washington, D.C. Pai said, while the U.S. was home to the world’s most powerful and popular technology companies, and an indispensable driver and beneficiary of the digital revolution, “… it is worth nothing that many Indians and Indian-Americans are playing a prominent role in our high-tech success story.”
Multiple American technology companies now feature Indian or Indian-American CEOs, and nearly one in four Silicon Valley startups is founded by an Indian or Indian-American, noted Pai.
He also praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Digital India” program for creating opportunities for American business, pointing out Google’s hopes to deploy WiFi hotspots at more than 500 train stations, and Cisco, IBM, and GE helping to design and deploy smart transportation systems and more efficient energy grids, in the plan to build 100 smart cities.
Both the U.S. and India face two common issues, Pai said, economy and security. Their strategic interests are closely aligned and the two democracies have been working closely to promote mutual growth and prosperity.
The praised the USIBC, with its 350-plu member companies, for contributing to the growth of job-creating commerce between the two countries, noting that today, there is more than $110 billion in bilateral trade between the two nations, more than triple the figure from a decade ago.
Pai began his address by harking back to his Indian heritage and wished those present a happy Ugadi or Gudi Padwa, and wished his Konkani food like Ubbati was being served at the event. His mother hails from Bangalore and father from Hyderabad. They came to the U.S. in 1971, with very little, he said. “Forty-six years after my parents’ journey from India, here I am, the grandson of a spare auto parts salesman and a file clerk, tapped by the President of the United States to be the nation’s chief communications regulator.” Two other Indian-Americans hold top positions in the Trump administration, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, the first Indian-American cabinet-level appointee in the history of this country, and Seema Verma, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Looking ahead, I’m optimistic about the future of our countries. A big reason why is the forward-looking approach that both are taking when it comes to technology and innovation,” Pai said, noting that he has begun work with his Indian counterpart, R.S. Sharma, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, to establish a cooperative framework for exchanging ideas on topics of shared interest, such as accelerating broadband deployment and spectrum policy.