India Ideas 2018

Explore the panels and speakers featured at the 2018 India Ideas Conference, held April 21, 2018 at Georgetown University. 


India's Economic Outook

As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India is poised to become the world’s fifth largest economy. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, India’s economy has grown at a rate of 7 percent per year since 2014 and the prime minister has enacted a series of domestic economic reforms such as demonetization and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Merging insights from the world of business, and policy, panellists Anoop Singh, director of the Asia and Pacific Department of the International Monetary Fund; Dilip Sundaram, president of global affairs at the Mahindra Group’s Americas division; and Adrian Mutton, CEO and founder of Sannam S4 discussed the effects of GST, “JAM” (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile), and non-performing assets in the financial sector. The panellists also analyzed how the evolving business climate in India can catalyze economic growth.

India's Investment in Trade

India has an extensive network of trading partners across all global regions and sectors. India’s trade as a percentage of its GDP stands at 40 percent, and this figure will continue to increase as India experiences sustained economic growth. Recent bilateral and multilateral free trade agreement negotiations such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership demonstrate Prime Minister Modi’s stance on foreign trade. In this panel, Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S.-India Business Council and Vinay Singh, director at KPMG, discussed India’s position in the global marketplace and offered their analyses of its economic relations with foreign nations.

Freedom of Expression in Media and the Arts

While India is hailed for upholding liberal democratic values, censorship increasingly threatens India’s freedom of the press and stifles artistic expression. According to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, India ranks 136 out of 180 countries, and its Information and Broadcasting Ministry has enacted strict guidelines to prevent the publishing of “fake news.” India’s Central Board of Film Certification has also adopted increasingly rigorous and controversial standards. Panellists Sagarika Ghose, consulting editor at the Times of India; Gautam Adhikari, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; and Radhika Vaz, an Indian-American comedian and writer, discussed freedom of the press and artistic expression in India and analyzed the worrying trends that suggest these values may be under threat.

Women in Leadership

Countless Indian women are shattering traditional stereotypes and making their mark in the world economy; they are at the helm of power, creating new companies, building brands, and launching social ventures. As India seeks to take its place as a global economic and social power, female participation in the workforce will be key to fully unlock the nation’s untapped potential. This panel provided a platform for three women–Amita Poole, CEO of IIPL USA; Shelly Kapoor, managing partner of Propeller Venture Capital; and Ranji Nagaswami, CEO of Hirtle, Callaghan & Co.–to share their stories of hard work, grit, and vision that have propelled them in their careers. They also offered their insights into the future of the Indian and global economy and the role that women will play in shaping it.

The Power of the Diaspora: Shaping U.S.-India Ties

Indian Americans represent just one percent of the U.S. population but have managed to make a mark in diverse fields such as academia, arts, business, entertainment, healthcare, media, philanthropy, politics, government, science, and technology. In this panel, Shekar Narasimhan, managing partner at Beekman Advisors; Shashi Gupta, president, CEO, and co-founder of Apex Covantage; and Jay Challa, CEO of AceInfo Solutions, discussed the ways in which political engagement and entrepreneurship of the Indian diaspora community in the United States has the power to influence and shape U.S.-India policy.

Skill India: Empowering India's Youth

When Prime Minister Modi launched Skill India in July 2015, its stated goal was to train 400 million Indians in a variety of workplace skills by 2022. One of the primary motivations behind this campaign is India's demographic youth bulge. Projections state that the current job marketplace does not have the capacity to absorb these many new workers into the labor force, and the prime minister hopes to create the additional economic activity that will enable India’s young and aspirational population to join the workforce. Panellists Shiv Khemka, executive chairman of the Global Education and Leadership Foundation, and Raj Gilda, co-founder of Lend-A-Hand India, are working on the frontlines of training India’s youth for future careers. They discussed innovative approaches to leadership training and addressed the successes and failures of Skill India and its potential impact on the country’s growing economy.

Featured Speakers

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