Leaders from all around the world gathered on July 8th at the Haas School of Business to attend the inaugural US-India Conference, an event organized by the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation and AIMA (All India Management Association). The conference, which followed Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and President Obama’s 7th meeting since 2014, reinforced how important the Indo-US partnership has become.1 The conference attracted more than 300 attendees.

The United States and India are joining forces on multiple initiatives including advancing global leadership on climate and clean energy, enhancing the strategic defense partnership, expanding commercial ties by breaking down barriers to trade and investment, and heightening cooperation in science, technology, and health.

India’s growth plays a significant role in the global economy and its economic indicators are looking strong.

India has undergone numerous changes over the past several years and made tremendous progress. For several decades India has been perceived as a developing nation, however it has now risen above this status.2

While many of its scientist and engineers have immigrated to western nations over the years, India has consistently been focused on building its human capital. With a rapidly changing technological landscape, India’s youth is being pushed to new standards and it needs to adapt quickly in order to develop fundamental skill sets. It has become crucial for students to undertake entrepreneurial activities in universities to accelerate their learning.


Chancellor Nicholas Driks

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, UC Berkeley

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks (UC Berkeley) opened the event by acknowledging the timeliness of the conference. India is now the fastest growing economy in the world while the American technology sector continues to expand with rising demand for talent and innovative research. “It is a wonderful moment, not only to acknowledge the extra dynamism of the Indian economy, but also to partner with colleagues in India around both mutual interest, shared concerns, and our efforts.”

Dean Lyons, Berkeley Haas

Richard Lyons, Dean of the Haas School of Business, highlighted the significance of innovation and commented on India’s immense growth and vitality by claiming, “all eyes are on India.” Dean Lyons explained that enterprises survive by being usefully different, being innovative, solving problems, and producing faster than other market players. Measuring the progress of a company’s innovation processes is important when attempting to accelerate markets.

Rekha Sethi, AIMA

Rekha Sethi, AIMA

 Rekha Sethi, Director General of AIMA, discussed the organization’s objective to promote global management and innovative thinking among Indian enterprises. As an organizer, she noted the significance of holding the conference to energize collaboration and develop a platform for dialogue between thought leaders from the US and India. The conference created an opportunity for academia, business, and media to come together.

Preetha Reddy, Apollo Hospitals

Preetha Reddy, Apollo Hospitals

“India, as a country, is poised for success”, said Preetha Reddy, Conference Chairperson and Executive Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals. While speaking on a global front, Reddy praised India for developing a large English speaking and English educated workforce, and reducing barriers to advance and bring about innovation. After acknowledging the challenges that India faces, Reddy claimed that “innovation is a part of Indians’ DNA”.


Diane Farrell

Diane Farrell, USTDA

Diane Farrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, discussed the progress that the US and India have made, as well as plans for future development. There are opportunities for collaboration in multiple sectors, including defense, aerospace, and clean energy, which represent the vast potential for US companies to explore.


Ambassador Ashok

The convergence in economic interests between India and the US fortifies the relationship between the nations. With Prime Minister Modi pushing for development and economic growth, Ambassador Ashok claimed “India’s target of double digit growth and the creation of 12M jobs needs a huge investment from outside.” He continued by saying that for growth to occur, there needs to be a greater share of manufacturing in the GDP.

From an education perspective, Ambassador Ashok said that he hopes the relationship between American and Indian universities improves. To develop a skilled workforce the Indian government launched Skill India. In addition to providing entrepreneurial education in nearly 2200 colleges and 300 schools, India has been training individuals through massive open online courses (MOOCs). Furthermore, adopting the US community college system could prove to be of great value to India.

Solomon Darwin, Berkeley Haas

Solomon Darwin, Berkeley Haas

 Smart villages are the next emerging platform, as they will urge companies to co-innovate with villagers to find technology solutions. Professor Solomon Darwin is spearheading the smart village initiative to prototype a scalable smart village in India. Smart villages will empower people at the bottom of the pyramid. Large firms have been producing products and services for the 1.5 billion rich people, while neglecting the 5.5 billion poor people, essentially causing them to miss out on an opportunity of $1.5 trillion. Co-innovating with villagers allows companies to build viable products and services that the villagers need in order to prosper; resources, technology, information, and entrepreneurial education enable villagers to develop their villages themselves. By providing access, value is created, and business models are designed.

Paul E. Jacobs, Qualcom

Paul E. Jacobs, Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, Executive Chairman of Qualcomm Inc., also spoke about empowering people with knowledge and technology by introducing how mobile is catalyzing the Internet of Things (IoT). Qualcomm has been trying to drive costs down while attempting to increase production numbers. This prospective shift in production would benefit the many regions in which smartphones are the primary method of internet connectivity. “We are expecting that in emerging regions the smartphones installed base would go from 2.4 billion in 2016 to 3.6 billion in 2020.” Dr. Paul E. Jacobs also spoke about Qualcomm’s involvement in producing smart cities with a project in Jaipur, India to create an innovation hub with a focus in energy management, transportation management, and other areas of opportunity.


Vishal Sikka, Infosys

Dr. Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys, who was awarded the AIMA Managing India Award 2015 for Emerging Business Leader, continued the segment by speaking of the progress that can be made by focusing on key areas of technology. He claimed that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technology are enabling us to do more with less. We have to embrace automation and AI because they create more opportunities through the ongoing revolution of displacing old jobs and creating new ones.

There are three enabling pieces when it comes to transforming nations and empowering people: democracy, technology, and education. Tolerance and diversity make a system stronger as we reshape the world around us with the use of technology.


Sam Pitroda, Policymaker

Sam Pitroda, Policymaker

Policymaker Sam Pitroda addressed the urgency of questioning the status quo and creating opportunities for individuals of every socioeconomic background. India has 500 million people living below the poverty line; Pitroda said, “India needs to invest in solving problems of the poor because everybody is busy solving problems of the rich. We need to democratize information effectively to benefit the people at the bottom of the economic growth.”

Technology is just one piece of the puzzle; entrepreneurs and government support are also crucial factors for growth. “India offers great hope not only in IT and telecom and software but also in energy, housing, and food.” According to Pitroda, bringing India to an ideal state would require a $100 billion investment, in addition to better technology, air quality, roads, and power plants.


Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee

Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee

Furthermore, in an interview with TiE Silicon Valley following the conference panel, Sachin Pilot, President of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee and Former Union Minister for Corporate Affairs, Government of India, reinforced the importance of India’s youth for the future of the nation. While informing the audience that India’s population of 1.2 billion has a median age of 26, Pilot expressed how crucial it is to ensure that the young population stays educated in order to bring about necessary changes. Moreover, Pilot claimed, “The young population of India is far more daring, creative, talented, and more skilled to take on the challenges of a global world.” 4 Also urging a focus on manufacturing, Pilot said, “No country the size of India has gone through and become a developed country without having gone through the cycle of manufacturing.”

Satish Reddy, Dr. Reddy Laboratories

Satish Reddy, Dr. Reddy Laboratories

Satish Reddy, Chairman of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, spoke about India’s flourishing pharmaceutical industry as part of the “Smart Medicine: Healthcare Solutions for All” segment. Reddy stressed that innovation takes place through collaboration; the US and India can leverage each other’s strengths to advance. The US, he said, is the “hub of innovation” which could benefit from reducing costs, while India can profit in gaining more scientific expertise. Together, the two nations can expedite the process to new discoveries.


Omar Ishrak, Medtronic

Omar Ishrak, Medtronic Inc.

To redefine healthcare and increase access we need to optimize efficiency, clinical results, and costs. Omar Ishrak, Chairman and CEO of Medtronic Inc., presented models for collaboration that could help both countries in striking the right balance in the healthcare industry. Emerging technologies will transform healthcare access. To strengthen their value propositions, Ishrak encourages startups to examine the problem they are attempting to solve and focus in areas that already have the other pieces of infrastructure developed.


Duncan Logan, Rocketspace

Duncan Logan, Rocketspace

The conference concluded with Duncan Logan, CEO and Founder of RocketSpace, who spoke about creating innovation ecosystems. Logan emphasized the importance of a supportive environment to promote innovation regardless of geographic location. Logan believes that freeing up IP and encouraging students to think entrepreneurial is the future of India, as small businesses are already becoming the job driver in several nations around the world. Healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems boost efficiency and produce jobs for the future.

As India’s engagement with US is set to grow exponentially, the conference provided great insight into technological trends and opportunities to accelerate markets to India. Many speakers spoke about the importance of questioning the status quo, empowering the leaders of tomorrow, and alleviating poverty in India. The thought-provoking discussions that followed emphasized the need for simple, sustainable, and scalable solutions. By strengthening their relationship, the United States and India can help each other invest in building a brighter future. UC Berkeley and AIMA are proud to have developed a strategic alliance and look forward to partnering again to organize the next US-India conference.



The US-India conference took place on July 8, 2016 at the Andersen Auditorium at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. The conference featured prominent speakers including Nicholas Dirks, UC Berkeley Chancellor; Richard Lyons, Dean of the Haas School of Business; Rekha Sethi, Director General, AIMA; Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd.; Diane Farrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration; Venkatesan Ashok, Ambassador of Consul General of India, San Francisco; Dr. Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys Ltd.; Solomon Darwin, Executive Director, Haas School of Business; Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, Executive Chairman of Qualcomm Incorporated; Ram K. Reddy, President-Elect, TiE Silicon Valley and Chairman, Global Industry Analysts, Inc.; Sam Pitroda, Telecom Inventor, Entrepreneur, and Policymaker; Sachin Pilot, President of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee and Former Union Minister for Corporate Affairs, Government of India; Satish Reddy, Chairman of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories; Omar Ishrak, Chairman and CEO of Medtronic Inc.; and Duncan Logan, Founder and CEO of RocketSpace.


article written by
Anaïs SidhuAnaïs Sidhu

B.A. Economics, UC Berkeley Class of 2016

Concentration in Entrepreneurship and Technology




1  “PM Modi’s 7th Meeting With Obama Next Week. Here’s The Agenda.”NDTV.com. NDTV, 3 June 2016. Web. 2016. <http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pm-modis-7th-meeting-with-obama-next-week-heres-the-agenda-1415051>.

2  Dawood, Ayub. “World Bank Lists India As ‘Lower Middle Income Economy’, Same Category As Pakistan.” ScoopWhoop. N.p., 2 June 2016. Web. 2016. <https://www.scoopwhoop.com/New-Nomenclature-Brought-By-World-Bank-Lists-India-As-Lower-Middle-Income-Economy/>.

Somvanshi, Kiran Kabtta. “World Bank to Change Classification of Countries; India Will Now Be Called ‘lower-middle Income'” The Economic Times, 31 May 2016. Web. 2016. <http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/world-bank-to-change-classification-of-countries-india-will-now-be-called-lower-middle-income/articleshow/52512636.cms>.

4 Pilot, Sachin. “Sachin Pilot Latest Interview at Berkeley Haas – AIMA, US – India Conference.” Interview by Mateen Syed. YouTube. YouTube, TiE Silicon Valley, 11 July 2016. Web.