All posts by Aanand Kharde

The Rise of Satya Nadella: An Inspiration to Indian-Americans

Ever since Satya Nadella became only the third chief executive of Microsoft, the Indian community in Silicon Valley has been bubbling over with pride and going hoarse cheering over the elevation of an Indian to the top of the fourth-largest company in the world by market capitalization. That his appointment would generate such excitement and frenzy might seem surprising at first. After all, Indians have over the years become a force in Silicon Valley, where about 15% of tech start-ups have Indian founders. Yet Nadella’s appointment is being hailed by Indians as something more. It’s another giant leap forward to have their own running one of the world’s most important companies. And he’ll be stepping into the shoes of Bill Gates, one of the world’s most famous names, to run a company for which Indians have a special affection.
But the most important question to ask is if there is anything to learn from the rise of that man called Satya Nadella?


Let’s face it; Microsoft is full of brainy graduates who are alumnus of India’s premier institutions besides graduates of the best schools of many other countries. Yet, it was Nadella, from a relatively humble Manipal Institute of Technology, who has been chosen to lead Microsoft at a crucial time. Not that his engineering skills were ever in doubt, rather it is his non-engineering talents which have helped him pole vault over droves of other talented nerds.

Tracing his story, young Satya, was an all-rounder at school. He played a lot of cricket, played pranks, loved music, was a champion debater and a good student, but not at the top of his class. But then, technical knowledge has always been his forte – Nadella has made Microsoft pose serious competition to Amazon’s cloud with its cloud platform Azure, ever since he started heading the cloud platform of the Company in 2013. The Azure cloud platform supports the services of Microsoft such as Bing, Xbox live, Office 365 and Windows Azure. Nadella led Microsoft’s server and tools division prior to his stint with cloud and engineering enterprise. So the journey of his life at Microsoft just goes to show that the stereotype of the hardworking Indian American has evolved and they are the ones ushering in a new voice. They are everywhere-as rappers, musicians, sportsmen and politicians. As a group, Indian Americans comprise the wealthiest and most educated single community in the U.S., a position of societal prestige that may last for some time yet — a recent survey found that no ethnic group in the U.S. saves more for their children’s college education than Indian Americans do. So a success story like Satya Nadella is definitely not a bolt from the blue but nevertheless, it is an inspiration.
He truly believes in Microsoft’s power to bring in change – In his first E Mail to the employees he reiterates “for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft – to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things. “Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance.”
I would like to end Satya’s story with a quote from Oscar Wilde which truly inspires us to believe that success does not have a religion, nationality or color. “We need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable”.


A step towards Immature Diplomacy

A day after the Gujarat court gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi in the Gulbarg Society massacre during the riots, the US government made it clear that there has been no change in its visa policy on Modi, and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is welcome to apply for a visa and wait for a review which will be grounded in American law. After Modi was denied a diplomatic visa to the US in 2005, the US also revoked the B-1/B-2 visa which had been issued to him earlier Not just that, on November 18, 2013, Congressman Joe Pitts and Congressman Frank Wolf introduced H. Res. 417, a Resolution intended to influence India’s upcoming elections by focusing on the 2002 Gujarat riots some 11 years after the fact.
USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee) has successfully led a grassroots lobbying effort in Washington DC to stop the above Resolution from going to the House Floor for a vote.
On December 7, 2013, less than one month after the Resolution’s introduction, Chairman Ed Royce of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to which H. Res. 417 was referred issued a statement at USINPAC’s request:
“As Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am focused on the critically important relationship between the United States and India. Our two nations share many common values and strategic interests. India plays a central role in the Asia-Pacific region, and we must do our part to ensure that India is a centerpiece of America’s rebalance to Asia. H. Res. 417 weakens, rather than strengthens, the friendship between the U.S. and India. The resolution runs counter to all the hard work that the American people, particularly those in the Indian American community, have done to improve the relationship.”
The tide against the anti-Modi resolution – which was also supported by the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a long-time Modi denouncer – could mean that the White House is open to diplomatic relations with the BJP leader should he win the elections next year.
Taking an aggressive stance against the US government, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha hit out at the US government for denying visa to its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi saying to proclaim the Gujarat chief minister guilty even when there was no evidence against him despite several probes amounts to “immature diplomacy” and sets a precedent for a “reciprocal” response. Sinha claimed that after the 2014 polls, President Barack Obama would have to handover the visa to Modi himself or risk losing his own entry to India.
A combative Sinha asked, “Will the US ever treat diplomats from China or Brazil in this fashion? We have to send a strong message that India is back in the hands of a strong leader after the 2014 polls. Either Obama comes to Delhi to handover the visa to Modi or we will have to cancel his visa.”

Afghanistan, its Security, Stability and Prosperity

USA and other NATO led troops of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are now preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan.  As a matter of future policy USA will leave some elements behind to be able to exercise and influence events in Afghanistan. However rebuilding Afghanistan will be a herculean task. It will require international support, humongous human and material resources, and a steadfast political commitment. The size of the country , the extent of the human needs, the absolute decay of  infrastructure, and the scarcity of local professional capacity combine to make restoring Afghanistan an immense challenge.

The only way in which Afghanistan can return to the state of lasting peace is to establish a political procedure by which various Afghan tribes and leaders can develop a common national agenda. This method can offer opportunities for extensive and widespread participation of various Afghan groups at all levels, and must realistically account for current power realities in the country. The solution agreed to by the Afghan factions represented in Bonn is only the first step towards a long-term process of creating a unified, representative, and stable government. It will require consideration not only to the political process itself, but also to security and public order needs, justice concerns, and economic and social needs. A new, steady Afghan government must be an essential partner in the struggle to prevent terrorists from using the country’s domain once again.

Afghanistan’s economic potential majorly depends on economic links to their neighbors for everything from markets for its agricultural products, infrastructure investments, and a possible natural gas pipeline. Given high debt burdens and severe governance challenges throughout the region, addressing economic and political development in both a regional and bilateral context is peremptory.

The potential of Afghanistan’s professional diaspora living all over the world must be tapped to contribute to a strengthening of the socio-economic sector. Return of committed, educated and skilled Afghanis, along with increased investment and the opening of trade channels, are needed to reverse the substantial “brain drain” that Afghanistan has suffered due to over three decades of violent conflict.

US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) in association with American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) and Foundation of India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) is organizing a conference focusing on the issue of   Afghanistan and the Region: Security, Stability and Prosperityon Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at the Capitol Hill, Washington DC. The conference which has been divided into 3 sessions will be graced by some of the most eminent speakers, in short the people who matter. Here is the schedule:

Session 1- 10:00 A.M to 11:15 A.M

Management of Transition and Ensuring Stability


  • Congressman Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs (Opening Speaker)
  • Congressman Joseph Crawley, Co-Chair, Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans
  • Mr. Kanwal Sibal, Former Foreign Secretary of India
  • Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation
  • Mr. Micheal O’ Hanlon, Director of Research, Brookings Institute

Session 2- 11:30 A.M to 12:30 P.M

India, Afghanistan and Regional Security (Keynote Session)


  • Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Mr. Rajnath Singh, President, Bhartiya Janata Party,  (BJP) India
  • Mr. Amrullah Saleh, Former Head of Afghan Intelligence

Session 3- 1:00 P.M to 2:30 P.M

Moderate and Balanced Afghanistan- Imperative for Regional Security


  • Mr. Ajit Doval, Former Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB), India
  • Mr. Mehran Baluch, Baloch Leader
  • Mr. Senge  Sering, President, Institute of Gilgit Baltistan Studies Moderate and Balanced Afghanistan- Imperative for Regional Security

The conference aims to engage communities to discuss factors affecting security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and surrounding region. The sessions will focus on critical dimensions of a balanced and unified strategy that can lead to Afghanistan’s stable and secure development. Participate in the discussion on how the management of political environment can be a force to bring peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and its consequential effect on nearby nations including India. We hope that you will be able to join us for this unique conference where leading international speakers are featured.


Attendance Strictly by RSVP only


The 123 Agreement finally has a time frame

The Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, also known as the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, refers to a bilateral accord on civil nuclear cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of India. The much-anticipated deal had been in the making for several years, until New Delhi and Washington completed a civil-nuclear-energy agreement in 2008, considered a landmark in bilateral relations between the two democracies and a first step toward recognition of India’s nuclear program.

Why India needs Nuclear energy?

Today, India has an installed capacity of 4.5 GW of nuclear power which accounts for 3 percent of the total electricity generated. The demand for power is projected to stand at about 350-400 GW by 2020 and nuclear power generation capacity is expected to increase to about 35 GW. India targets to achieve 25 percent electricity production from this source by 2050. It would be baffling to mention that France, at present, generates 78% of its electricity from nuclear power plant. The U.S.-India deal could also reduce the perceived costs to states that might consider “going nuclear” in the future.

Besides, nuclear power is a clean source of energy. Amazingly, 1 GW of power station would consume roughly 3.1 million tonnes of black coal each year as compared to only 24 tonnes of enriched uranium.


There has been an unusual delay in the bill reaching towards its implementation but there has been intermittent forward movement towards building on the foundational basis laid down by it. One such noteworthy development happened in 2009 when the Indian government specifically delineated two sites for hosting American-origin reactors and this was conveyed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her visit to India the same year.

After all these years, it seemed like a significant leap forward for U.S.-India relations when Secretary of State John Kerry announced American nuclear equipment supplier Westinghouse Electric Co. would sign a “commercial agreement” to sell nuclear reactors to India’s Nuclear Power Corporation by September, 2013. Mr. Kerry’s declaration, which came during a three-day trip to India for regular strategic talks, was meant to signal progress in the countries’ hitherto abortive efforts to trade in nuclear technology. The U.S. sees the Westinghouse-NPCIL agreement as a key test of whether the nuclear deal can indeed proceed as it had hoped, and ensure projects for its companies. General Electric, another nuclear giant that wants to provide the nuclear reactors for a planned complex in Andhra Pradesh, is also watching the agreement closely.

It seems finally we are in a situation where that significant light at the end of the tunnel isn’t just a blur, but a definite reality.

Natural gas export between U.S and India on the brink of a new dawn

Natural gas is soon emerging as a highly preferred fuel due to its high efficiency and cost effectiveness. Over the past year, the surplus production of liquid natural gas (LNG) in the U.S. has given impetus to the prospect of LNG exports to strategic allies. The United States and India are two of the world’s top five energy consumers. To date, policy debates have focused on finding sustainable ways to satisfy the ever-expanding demand for energy by advanced economies and big emerging markets such as India and China. Now, as the global energy landscape shifts, and as the Indian economy continues to grow rapidly, increasing U.S. energy exports to the region is becoming a win-win proposition. Taking this into consideration, a bill H.R 2471, the “Expedite Our Economy Act of 2013”, has been introduced by Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade to amend the existing Department of Energy Organization Act. The bill aims to completely transfer regulatory authority over exports of natural gas from the Department of Energy (DOE) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The bill proposes to make it easier for companies to export U.S. surplus of natural gas, creating new jobs, boosting the economy, and strengthening international trade relationships. For countries like India that do not have a Free Trade Area( FTA) with the U.S., the Natural Gas Act directs the Department of Energy to grant export authorizations unless the Department finds that the proposed exports will not be consistent with public interest. This bill will remove Department of Energy from the LNG export permitting process. Congressman Ted Poe has urged lawmakers to cosponsor H.R. 2471, The heart of the matter is that the U.S. move to free LNG exports to the non-FTA countries is not an “India-centric” move. Let us say, India could be a “stakeholder.” The decision takes into account a variety of factors, which include the persisting demands of competing countries such as China and Japan whose companies have been aggressively participating in shale gas activities in the U.S. through stake purchases and forming joint ventures.
But the decision paves the way for India, which does not have a FTA with the US, to get its companies to seek similar licenses for import of much needed gas from the United States. The existing federal law generally requires approval of natural gas exports to countries that have an FTA with the United States.
It is time to remove bureaucratic roadblocks and take the Department of Energy out of the approval process for natural gas exports,” said Congressman Poe. “Unnecessary federal red tape is the only thing standing in the way of the United States exporting natural gas. Exporting natural gas would grow our economy and create thousands of new jobs. Washington should be supporting, not stonewalling, the development and exportation of this valuable resource. ”
Dominion Resources Inc. has announced deals with Indian and Japanese companies to export liquefied natural gas from a proposed export plant in Maryland as it hopes it will obtain permission from U.S. authorities to export LNG to these customers by 2017. Affiliates of India’s state-controlled natural-gas processing and distributing company Gail Ltd have signed 20-year agreements to buy half of the proposed plant capacity.

The United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) has been constantly working for the past several months with the lawmakers at the Capitol Hill to expedite the export of natural gas between U.S and India. It has been closely working with the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade that held the recent Congressional Hearing on the LNG export issue in April 2013.

If the bill proposed by Congressman Poe is passed in both the House and the Senate, the India and the U.S. will be able to significantly strengthen their economic and political relations and herald an era of energy security for India.