Dispatch from India
Nearly 8,000 miles from its headquarters in Española, NM, Akal Security protects schools, hospitals, technology parks, and communities in New Delhi and other cities across India. Meeting with the business' leaders in India was a reminder of what makes New Mexico, half a world away, so special. The founders of Akal - members of the Sikh community in Española - found New Mexico to be a culturally diverse state that would allow their community to thrive while they built a successful company. The business they founded more than 30 years ago now performs security at federal buildings across the United States and is competitive around the world, bringing Akal to places like India.
It's promoting these types of economic partnerships that has brought me to India as part of a congressional delegation.
India's economy has been growing at an average of seven percent over the last fifteen years and the change has been dramatic. As the world's two largest democracies, the United States and India have huge potential for economic cooperation and prosperity. India is expected to have the fifth largest consumer market by 2025, which means a huge potential for American products to be sold here.
One such opportunity is developing clean energy. I met with nobel laureate Rajendra K. Pachauri, one of the world's foremost climate change researchers. He gave me further insight about the urgent need to address climate change and the need to foster incentives to develop renewable energy.
Later, I took part in a discussion about bringing U.S. Companies to India to help promote successful clean energy projects. Like elsewhere in the world, India yearns for leadership from the United States on clean energy. Moving towards a clean energy economy at home would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it would allow us to invest in technologies that could be sold to markets like India.
I discussed opportunities for building scientific partnerships between our two countries with students at Hyderabad University, located in the technology center of India. Visiting a nearby technology firm, Infotech, I encouraged Indian business leaders to invest in New Mexico, where other firms have opened successful offices that create jobs for New Mexicans.
While India is growing, the country still has substantial development challenges and much of the population continues to live in poverty. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is doing remarkable work in India to share our values and improve the livelihood of impoverished people, especially women.
In a slum that I visited in Jaipur, USAID workers were helping with prenatal visits for villagers, child health services, and developing creative ways to encourage healthy lifestyles for kids. Just like we focus on strengthening our communities at home, Gandhi called on India to focus on building self-sufficient villages. The USAID workers I met are helping the people of India do just that, while also helping build our ties with India everyday.
In India, the private sector also plays an integral role in fostering development. In Kompally, the 16,000 residents got clean drinking water for the first time when WaterHealth, a public-private partnership, installed its 500th water filtration and purification system. Typically, a community will contribute 40 percent of the costs for building the facility, with WaterHealth funding the rest. Residents can then purchase clean water for .30 Rupees per liter (about 7¢ for 5 gallons of water).
Photos from Sen. Warner's office via Flickr.