Gov. Martin O’Malley and wife, Judge Katie O’Malley, will be heading to India right after Thanksgiving, leading the state’s largest ever overseas economic development trip and the first visit of a sitting Maryland governor to the world’s largest Democracy.
The six-day trip will include visits to Hyderabad in central India, a biomedical hub; Mumbai (formerly Bombay) on the west coast, the financial center; New Delhi, the national capital; and Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal.
More than 100 people are part of the official delegation, though most are paying their own way, including the three members of the House of Delegates of Indian ancestry: House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and freshman Dels. Sam Arora and Aruna Miller.
UPDATE: According to Robert Walker, assistant secretary of business and economic development, Maryland’s Indian community has been pressuring O’Malley and the department for some time for an economic development trip. There are now 3,070 businesses owned by Indian-Americans in Maryland with 26,000 employees, the 7th highest in the nation.
India is now Maryland’s 11th largest export market, and trade was up 18% in just 2010. India’s economy has been growing at 7% rate over the past decade, and will soon be the world’s 3rd largest economy.
Maryland has had “a long established trade and development relationship” with China, with a business office in Shanghai for 15 years,” Walker said. “We’re sort of opening the door to India,” where 70% of the people have a positive view of the United States, according to a recent survey.
Forty-three companies from Maryland will be represented on the trip, which will include the signing of two sister-state agreements. O’Malley will meet briefly with the chief minister (governor) of the state of Andhra Pradesh, a state of about 84 million people where the capital of Hyderabad has a million more people (6.8 million) than the whole state of Maryland.
O’Malley will also sign a sister-state agreement with the state of Maharashtra, (population 112 million) whose capital is Mumbai (12 million people.)
“Having these high level meetings is going to be very helpful” to the business people on the trip, said Pradeep Ganguly, senior vice president of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. County Executive Rushern Baker will be traveling with the 14 local businesses on the trip.
“The climate for doing business in India is better than ever,” Ganguly said. He also noted that a representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce will be traveling with the group, and the department is providing its Gold Key services to the group.
In addition to individual business-to-business meetings for members of the delegation, O’Malley is scheduled to address a luncheon meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industries in Hyderabad, with a dinner reception there hosted by the minister of information technology.
O’Malley will also speak to a breakfast meeting of the Indus Entrepreneurs and the All India Biotech Association.
The GMR Group, a large infrastructure enterprise, will also host a luncheon for the delegation. Walker said that it is estimated that India will spend $1.7 trillion on roads, ports, airports and the power grid in the next five years. ARINC of Anne Arundel, which already works with two Indian airports, will have three representatives on the trip.
O’Malley will attend a major pharmaceutical convention in Mumbai, and help launch an India chapter of the Maryland-founded Women in Bio organization. The Braj Binani Group will host a dinner there.
Walker said that many of the events are being paid for by Indian hosts. He could not estimate the cost of the trip to the state.
The cost for the bulk of the delegation paying their own way ranges from $5,000 to $7,000 depending on international airfare, according to two firms making arrangements for the trip.
Eight representatives of the University of Maryland College Park are going on the trip, including President Wallace Loh.
The university will sign three memos of understanding with Indian universities, according to Jonathan Wilkenfeld, associate provost for international affairs.
One will focus on agricultural exports and inspections, a field in which UMCP has specialized.
About 1,900 Indian students a year study in Maryland universities, with an estimated economic impact of $55 million.
Here is the complete press release from the governor’s office, including links to full schedules for O’Malley and his wife, more details on the trip, and a list of the members of the delegation.