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India’s recent restrictions on foreign direct investment, its lack of robust intellectual property rights, its imposition of retroactive taxation, and its uncertainty over preferential market access policy have frustrated American businessmen and policymakers alike. At the same time, Indians remain concerned about US immigration reform that targets Indian information technology firms, and restrictions on exporting liquefied natural gas. Will the US-India relationship live up to its promise as a dynamic partnership that transforms Asia and the world, or will it languish as a tepid half-embrace that promises more than it can deliver?

On the eve of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with President Obama, AEI brings together a panel of experts to discuss the future of US-India relations and the central role business can play. The event will coincide with the release of a new AEI report laying out a path forward for US-India economic relations.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


9:30 AM
Breakfast and Registration

9:45 AM
Keynote Address:
Nirupama Rao, Indian Ambassador to the United States

10.30 AM
Mark Brunner, Senate India Caucus
Walter Lohman, Heritage Foundation
Arvind Panagariya, Columbia University
Ron Somers, US-India Business Council
Sadanand Dhume, AEI

12:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Hemal Shah at [email protected], 202.862.5889.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Mark Brunner is the national security adviser to Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), who is also cochair of the Senate India Caucus. In this position, Brunner is the senator’s principal adviser on defense, foreign policy, and energy issues. Before his work for Senator Warner, Brunner served as a congressional appropriations liaison for the Navy, where he was the secretary of the Navy’s principal liaison to the appropriations committees in the House and Senate for all naval aviation programs and Navy classified programs. He has also worked for the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John Warner (R-VA). He served as the senator’s military legislative assistant and speechwriter, providing analysis and formulating legislative policy on a wide range of national security and foreign policy issues. Brunner also served in a diplomatic posting abroad as the defense policy adviser to the United States Mission to the European Union (EU), working on a variety of US–EU foreign policy and defense issues, and conducting public diplomacy with US and European public and private-sector interests. Before his time abroad, he was a career Navy pilot who deployed to theater multiple times, including a deployment on the USS Constellation to the Arabian Gulf, where he led the first-ever SH-60B Seahawk deployment on an aircraft carrier. Other deployments include the Middle East, Asia, South America, and law enforcement operations in the Caribbean. Brunner has worked in more than 50 countries during his military, diplomatic, and congressional service.

Sadanand Dhume writes about South Asian political economy, foreign policy, business, and society, with a focus on India and Pakistan. He is also a South Asia columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review in India and Indonesia and was a Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, DC. His political travelogue about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, “My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist” (Skyhorse, 2009), has been published in four countries.

Walter Lohman is director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. Before joining Heritage, Lohman served as senior vice president and executive director of the US-ASEAN Business Council for four years. While there, he oversaw the council’s mission of building US market share in Southeast Asia, led multiple delegations of Fortune 500 companies to the region, participated in prominent business and policy forums, and regularly represented the council in its interaction with high-level ASEAN officials. In the late 1990s, Lohman was the council’s senior country director representing American interests in Indonesia and Singapore. The other part of Lohman’s career has been spent as a US Senate staff member. In 2002, he served as senior professional Republican staff member advising former senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), former ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on issues affecting East Asia. From 1991 to 1996, he served as a policy aide to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), during which time he advised McCain on foreign policy, trade, and defense issues. 

Arvind Panagariya is currently a professor of economics and the Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University. In the past, he has been the chief economist of the Asian Development Bank. Panagariya has authored more than a dozen books. His latest book, “Why Growth Matters” (PublicAffairs, 2013), coauthored with Jagdish Bhagwati, has been described by The Economist as a manifesto for policymakers and analysts and has triggered a major policy debate in India. Panagariya’s scientific papers have appeared in top professional journals such as American Economic Review and Quarterly Journal of Economics, while his policy papers have appeared in Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. He writes a monthly column in The Times of India and his guest columns have appeared in The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and India Today. The president of India recently honored Panagariya with the Padma Bhushan award.

Nirupama Rao assumed her responsibilities as ambassador of India to the United States in September 2011. She joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973. In a diplomatic career spanning over three decades, Rao served in various world capitals, including Washington, Beijing, and Moscow. She acquired extensive experience in India-China relations, serving in the East Asia Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs at policy level capacities for several years, and later serving as India’s first woman ambassador to China from 2006 to 2009. Her other ambassadorial assignments include Peru, Bolivia, and Sri Lanka, where she was also India’s first female high commissioner. Rao served in Washington as minister for press and cultural affairs at the Indian embassy from 1993 to 1995. She also served as deputy chief of mission at the Indian embassy in Moscow in the late 1990s. Rao was designated New Delhi’s spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs in 2001, the first female Indian Foreign Service officer to hold this post. On completion of her ambassadorial tenures in Sri Lanka and China, Rao was appointed foreign secretary, the highest office in the Indian Foreign Service, where she served a two-year term through July 2011. Rao was a fellow at the Centre for International Affairs (now the Weatherhead Centre) at Harvard University in the early 1990s. She was also a distinguished international executive in residence at the University of Maryland at College Park in 1999–2000.

Ron Somers is president of the US-India Business Council. Previously, Somers was Unocal Corporation’s chief executive in India, developing commercial opportunities in India’s emerging energy market. Before that, he was managing director for India on behalf of Cogentrix Energy, tasked with setting up a 1000 megawatt electric power project in the Indian state of Karnataka. During Somers’s residency in India, he served on the board of directors of Hindustan Oil Exploration Company, India’s first private-sector oil exploration company, as well as on the board of the US Educational Foundation in India, which oversees the country’s Fulbright and Humphrey scholarship programs. He is currently on the International Leadership Council of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a professional graduate school preparing students for careers in cross-cultural, multilingual environments.

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