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San Francisco-India Business Ties Booming

India West, News Report, Richard Springer Posted: Dec 04, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif. The overall message of a new report on emerging ties between the San Francisco Bay Area and India reemphasized what already has been generally acknowledged that the depth, breadth and strength of the ties are extensive and growing, Bay Area Council Economic Institute president R. Sean Randolph summarized for an audience at The Indus Entrepreneurs conference room here Nov. 20.

The intensity and quality of the ties are unique and extraordinary, he reiterated to India-West after the forum.

The 290-page report, Global Reach: Emerging Ties between the San Francisco Bay Area and India, was mulled over by a high-powered panel in an afternoon program co-hosted by the council, TiE, the India Community Center and several other organizations.

Some highlights of the report include:

Visa, which has offices in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, has issued some 30 million debit cards and 14 million credit cards through 32 banks and 13 non-bank partners in India.

Oracle, which entered the India market in 1987, now has a workforce of 24,000 in India, compared to 6,000 in 2004.

India represents Oracles largest investment outside the U.S. ($3 billion since 2002) and is its fourth largest Asian market, with some 6,700 technology and application customers, the report said.

Silicon Valley-based Symantecs largest center outside the U.S. is in India, Randolph said. One of the most aggressive (companies) in building an Indian presence geared to global markets, the report said, is Silicon Valley-based Cisco Systems.

Cisco has seven sales offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata and joint development centers with Wipro, Infosys, HCL, Satyam and Zensar Technologies. Ciscos second global headquarters is in Bangalore.

More than half of Indias development community works on Sun Microsystems platforms and Hewlett Packard is the largest player in Indias information technology market. India accounts for about one-third of Adobes global engineering workforce.

Levis Strauss now has 450 outlets in 80 Indian cities and the companys various brands have a footprint in some 2,000 multi-brand stores in more than 500 cities, the report said.

E-Bay has doubled the number of regular users in India to about two million, Randolph told the audience at TiE.

He pointed out that while the cost advantage in India has dipped from about 80 percent to a 50 percent savings, the ability to do high-end tasks has moved up the ladder.

Challenges for the future on the India side include sustained reform in education and legal services, Randolph said.

On the U.S. side, difficulties include the growing trend of more students from India attending graduate schools here and then returning to India immediately due to visa difficulties or better job opportunities at home.

Were not making it very friendly for them to stay. We have to keep our doors open, Randolph said

Former hedge fund manager Madhav Misra of the San Francisco-Bangalore Sister City Committee reviewed pending MoUs to be signed or developed during San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsoms current visit to Bangalore.

San Francisco is providing Bangalore expertise in the areas of water, sewage, solid waste management and trauma care, he said, adding that the sister-city committees are actively encouraging public-private partnerships.

The University of California at San Francisco is collaborating on a project involving drug development and shared protein with Indian biotechnology company Biocon. There is also discussion about Bay Areas wine growers helping Bangalore became a top 10 wine producing region.

The Asian Art Museum, the Academy of Art, the Berkeley Rep and American Conservatory Theatre are also speaking with groups in Bangalore about cultural exchanges, Misra said.

In the panel discussion after the reports presentations, Rafiq Dossani, senior research scholar and executive director of the South Asia program at Stanford Universitys Asia-Pacific Research Center, pointed out that India studies are booming at colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area and, to a lesser extent, nationally.

However, he lamented the fact that project exchanges with educators counterparts in India is the missing piece for India and U.S. academia. Its not happening.

Michel St. Pierre, director of planning and urban design at global architectural firm Gensler, said that as cities grow to gigantic numbers in India, the infrastructure is fast approaching the breaking point. The country will need 500 new cities by 2022, he added. Planning for public open space will be crucial to the quality of life.

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