Speeches and Remarks
Remarks by Ambassador Nancy J. Powell at the USAID–FICCI-GOI Millennium Alliance Launch (As prepared for Delivery)
New Delhi | July 10, 2012
Thank you for this wonderful introduction. Good morning everyone. Let me begin by thanking:
• Dr. Ramasami
• Saurabh Srivastava
• Mr. Maira and
• Dr. Kumar
for being here today to launch this exciting initiative: the Millennium Alliance, a joint partnership between FICCI, the Government of India, and the United States Agency for International Development (or USAID). Today I am delighted to speak to you about the United States’ transformed development partnership with India, and how our two countries are working together, building on the successes of the last 60 years, to inspire social innovation and improve the lives of people all over the world.
Transformation of the U.S. - India Development Partnership
The United States and India have a long and successful history working together, particularly in the area of development. For more than 50 years, the United States and India have used transformative technologies to address critical development challenges of food production, climate variability, health, education, and energy. For decades, scientists, engineers, and social innovators from India and the United States have worked side by side. One of the most well-known examples of this is the scientific collaboration that led to the Green Revolution in India that saved literally millions of lives here and around the world.
In the early years of our relationship, we provided basic commodities and infrastructure and helped to nurture scientific and technological institutions. In recent years, however, our partnership with India has transformed dramatically. India has risen to become both a leading global power as well as an important partner of the United States. India is a dynamic democratic and market-driven power with its 1.2 billion citizens, a growing economy, pluralistic society and stable democratic institutions. It is emerging as a global economic force as a member of the G-20, and in the next 20 years it is projected to become one of the five largest economies in the world. India’s dramatic growth has lifted millions out of poverty.
India is an equal partner in our quest to bring technologies that transform people’s lives to other parts of the world. Nowhere is the impact of our societies’ complementary strengths more evident than in our technology and innovation partnership. In one recent example, the U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment Fund selected its first grant awardee: a bilateral partnership that has created a cold storage solution for the preservation of healthy fruits and vegetables.
I want to especially thank Dr. Ramasami, Mr. H.K. Mittal of the Technology Development Board, and their colleagues throughout the Ministry of Science and Technology for their visionary leadership and dynamic partnership on this and many other bilateral initiatives, including the Millennium Alliance.
India as a Development Innovation Laboratory
India is known the world over as a center of scientific and technological excellence with a large pool of talent. Just as India has applied creativity and innovation to information technology and other scientific areas where India excels, innovative solutions to development challenges can also be identified, tested, and scaled in India and around the world for sustained global impact. As a pioneer of game-changing innovations that are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in development, India can be considered one of the world’s leading development innovation laboratories.
We want to work with India’s own knowledge base and wealth of talent and creativity to raise incomes and improve livelihoods for people in India and globally. We want to inspire more and more social innovators to come up with solutions to society’s most intractable development challenges, and we want to share these solutions with the world. Ultimately, we hope to foster generations of innovative thinkers and leaders who will contribute to improving the lives of people everywhere.
The progress both our nations have made in the last six decades is a testament to our strong partnership. But we hope to add a new chapter to that partnership, as we work together to confront some of the greatest development challenges of our time.
The Power of Public-Private Partnerships
The role the private sector plays in improving lives and addressing poverty is more critical than ever before. Today I want to talk about why that role is so important, why innovation lies at its heart and how the Government of India, FICCI, and the United States can help drive greater progress not just for India but also for the world.
We believe we need to work more collaboratively with a much wider range of partners; particularly private firms, be they foreign or domestic, established or entrepreneurial. By fostering new ideas and forming high-impact public-private partnerships to bring those ideas to scale, we can work with Indian organizations to drive meaningful solutions to global development challenges.
Examples of successful public private partnerships
For instance, to strengthen food security across India, we are working with ITC Limited and Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar, the agricultural supermarket chain, to set up Rural Business Hubs that have provided agricultural extension services for more than 190,000 farmers. As a result, nearly two-thirds of these farmers have increased their productivity by 25 percent.
The United States is also working with ITC to leverage its rural agricultural distribution and communication network, e-Choupal, to build demand for health products and services. For a small commission, Village Health Champions supply rural communities with health products, like water purification devices and menstrual hygiene products.
The Millennium Alliance
Today I am very happy to be here to help launch the Millennium Alliance, an exciting new partnership between FICCI, the Government of India, and the United States. The Millennium Alliance will leverage Indian creativity, expertise, and resources to support and scale innovative solutions to development problems that will benefit populations across India and the world. The Alliance is an inclusive platform, and we open our doors to social impact funds, venture capitalists, corporate foundations, angel investors, donors, and others who share our commitment to harnessing Indian innovation to improve the lives of the poor. The Alliance will provide innovators with essential resources such as seed funding, business incubation services, networking opportunities, and technical assistance, and will facilitate their access to equity, debt, and other capital.
This joint commitment recognizes India’s role as a global innovation laboratory, in which development innovations can be tested, nurtured, and scaled, and in which private and public sector resources and expertise can be leveraged to reduce the cost and increase the reach of development improvements in India and around the world.
The Alliance welcomes proposals from innovators across the country – entrepreneurs, NGOs, academics, the private or public sectors – or any other Indian entity that has an innovative solution to a development challenge in India in any development sector such as education, health, agriculture, or clean energy. We look forward to a robust response to the Millennium Alliance Call for Applications that will be announced today.
In closing, I’d like to commend FICCI and the Government of India for joining forces with us to support Indian innovation and for working together to leverage resources and maximize the impact of the Alliance. The United States is honored to be a part of this partnership.
Thank you all very much.