New York, the city of opportunities and dreams can be an extremely unforgiving place. With a significant number of world’s biggest companies headquartered here, the city has always been extremely competitive. But all this did not deter Rajiv Khanna to move to United States in early eighties. That he belonged to a country which was still largely perceived as a land of snake charmers did not make him nervous either.
Having toped Masters in Law at the University of Miami, Rajiv moved to New York to realize his dreams to carve a name for himself in the cut throat world of corporate law. His determination and hard work made him the first Indian to become a full equity partner at a law firm and in half the time, it took others to achieve this milestone.
“Eighties was a different world. Indians were not accepted as they are now. In fact, there was very little news about India in US and mostly the news which made headlines was the kinds that reinforced India’s image as a backward country, land of snake charmers, as they call it,” says Rajiv Khanna, Partner, K&L Gates and President, India-America Chamber of Commerce.
Things started to change post liberalization and a huge positive sentiment about India gathered momentum in the US around 2005. Even though there was a blip in confidence about India around 2010-11, Rajiv believes that this was an aberration and doesn’t take away from the long term India story.
“India has the highest economic potential in the world and is uniquely positioned. It is a US$ 1.5 trillion economy, with a savings rate of about a third. So, each year there is close to half a trillion dollars available within the economy to invest. In addition, half of the population is under 30 years, resulting in a huge market with a strong domestic demand,” says
Reports from around the world attest to the growing clout of India. And even though some have been critical of the country recently, the fundamentals are strong. But Rajiv cautions that sometimes perceptions impact the country and therefore the Government and the citizens, including overseas Indians, must work towards correcting that perception. “The promise is still there but we need to be sensitive to the fact that investor sentiment is of paramount importance and perceptions become reality...I believe that India has the potential to be the growth engine of the world and lead it to new heights of prosperity. We must welcome this opportunity, capture the imagination of the world and propel the country forward to its rightful position as the global economic leader. I can say on behalf of all overseas Indians, that it will be our privilege to help India achieve this potential,” concludes Rajiv.