US firms pump money in India as Biden eyes geopolitical goals

Published June 25, 2023
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with US and Indian technology executives during a trip to the United States. — Photo courtesy: Twitter
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with US and Indian technology executives during a trip to the United States. — Photo courtesy: Twitter

NEW DELHI: Amazon and Google are the latest companies to announce massive investment plans in India amid US President Joe Biden’s efforts to “send a message to China” by cementing India’s position as a close ally.

Amazon said on Friday it will take its investments in India to $26 billion by 2030, adding $6.5bn in new planned investments in an announcement made after CEO Andy Jassy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the United States.

Though Jassy gave no breakdown, the announcement follows Amazon’s cloud computing unit Amazon Web Services saying last month it will invest INR1.06tr in the country by the end of 2030.

The e-commerce giant’s announced investment during Modi’s trip adds to other companies, including US semiconductor toolmaker Applied Materials and memory chip firm Micron Technology, which have made commitments during the Indian premier’s state visit.

Separately, Google will open a global fintech operation centre at GIFT City in India’s western state of Gujarat, with teams working on operations supporting its payment service GPay, and other product operations at Google, the company said in a statement.

“We shared Google is investing $10 billion in the India digitisation fund, and we are continuing to invest through that,” CEO Sundar Pichai told reporters in a video shared on Twitter by Reuters partner ANI company.

On the final day of his trip, Modi met US and Indian technology executives, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and appealed to global companies to “Make in India”.

Biden offered Modi the full pomp of a state visit with two dinners — one intimate and one gala — a meeting with top CEOs, and a long list of concrete takeaways including agreements on US engines for India’s new home-grown fighter-jets and a major semiconductor factory.

Biden is “trying to tell the world that America is back. We’ve got partners and allies and we’ve got India on our side of the ledger,” said Aparna Pande, a South Asia expert at the Hudson Institute.

Biden hopes to “send a message to China — you have your people and I have my people and India is among mine,” she said.

Tamanna Salikuddin, a former State Department official, called the joint statement issued during Modi’s visit “remarkable” in its scope with the defence deliverables on par with what the United States would give a Nato or other treaty ally.

“The depth and breadth of what we’re committing to with India is really putting them in a totally different basket. And I think that is what Modi wanted,” said Salikuddin, now director of South Asia programmes at the US Institute of Peace.

The Biden administration considers China the most serious long-term challenger to the United States, despite renewed efforts to manage tensions.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2023

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