Washington: In the current doom and gloom around India's economic scenario, even the good tends to get lost. The increasing presence of Indian companies in the United States and the role they play is a story largely unappreciated because it is untold.
And no, it is not only the information technology companies although IT was the banner under which Indian companies initially made their presence felt. But over the past 15 years Indian enterprises in a variety of sectors, ranging from pharmaceuticals to health care and manufacturing, have planted their feet in 40 of the 50 states in the US. They have invested more than $820 million since 2005, done 72 mergers and acquisitions, saving and sustaining thousands of American jobs. They engage with the local economy and quietly do their bit.
But the dominant feeling about Indian companies remains tainted by one word - outsourcing. That the US is struggling with a recessionary economy and high unemployment with politicians desperate to find something/someone to blame doesn't help. It is America's "foreign hand" syndrome. Add to it the current anti-immigrant sentiment, the new state laws against illegal immigrants and the flap over H1-B visas for Indian IT companies and you have a narrative that suits election-year politics of us and them.
But facts are in favour of Indian companies and the growing Indo-US relationship. A survey of 36 Indian companies in the US shows they employ 52,000 workers and a majority bolstered their presence since 2005 and despite the economic downturn. In some sectors such as travel and hospitality, 99 percent of the workers employed are local. For pharmaceuticals the figure is 83 percent while for manufacturing, 91 percent.
Even though the local employment figure for the IT industry - the big "bad" guy of outsourcing - is 39....