rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Business » Indian Amercian gets plum post in US govt

Indian Amercian gets plum post in US govt

July 18, 2008 09:06 IST
Neel Kashkari, who was the Senior Advisor to US Treasury Secretary Henry M Paulson, was nominated by President Bush to the post of Assistant Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs and has been confirmed by the US Senate.

He will be one of the senior most Indian Americans in the Bush Administration. His tenure will last for six months.

The Akron, Ohio-born Kashkari, told rediff.com that in the next few months he would zero in "on a number of initiatives critical to ensuring US and global economic strength," and that his responsibilities would "include managing issues related to foreign investment in the United States, as well as overseeing regionally-focused international affairs priorities."

"I look forward to reaffirming America's commitment to open investment - which stimulates growth, creates jobs, enhances productivity and improves competitiveness," he said.

Kashkari said, Specifically related to India, there were five areas which he would push for "that the Treasury Department sees as significant opportunities for both countries - promoting infrastructure investment, increasing financial sector liberalisation, supporting a bilateral investment framework, investing in clean technology, and supporting multilateral trade."

Sources told rediff.com, that in the discussions between senior US and Indian officials that have been underway on the possibility of negotiating a bilateral investment treaty between the two countries, Kashkari had been among the leading American negotiators.

However, these sources acknowledged that the chances of such a treaty "getting past first phase, let along being signed in the final months of this Administration is highly unlikely - it just won't happen."

"But at least the spadework is being done and the seeds have been planted and the template would have been put in place, if the new administration wants to run with it," the source added.

Kashkari - whose parents, father Chaman, a retired professor of engineering and mother, Sheila, a pathologist, hail from Kashmir- prior to joining Treasury, was a vice president at Goldman Sachs and Co. in San Francisco, where he led the firm's IT security investment banking practice, advising public and private companies on mergers and acquisitions and financial transactions.

Before his career in finance, Kashkari was a R&D Principal Investigator at TRW in Redondo Beach, California, where he developed technology for NASA space science missions such as James Webb Space Telescope, the replacement for Hubble, which is scheduled for launch in 2013.

He is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from where he received his bachelor's and master's degree in aerospace engineering, and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business from where he received his MBA in finance.

When he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, chaired by Senator Chris Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, for his confirmation hearing, Kashkari said that since joining the Treasury Department in July 2006, he had led several policy initiatives for the Department, including "promoting Indian financial sector liberalisation and free trade through strengthened economic engagement and increased infrastructure investment."

He said that in his role as Senior Advisor to Paulson, he had "been responsible for developing and executing international and domestic policies for the Department to foster a more conducive investment climate for the US as well as the support of global economic growth."

Kashkari said that his stint in the private sector as an investment banker before joining government where he had "executed financial and strategic transactions," had prepared him for the position to which he had been nominated by President Bush.

He said advising US and international companies "on both debt and equity financing, global mergers and acquisitions," and by virtue of coaching management teams and boards of directors, "I gained first-hand insight into the challenges that US companies face as they strive to access markets abroad, while also competing with global players here at home."

"This transactional experience will be particularly relevant to helping implement our critically important security policy through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States," he added, and pledged to "work hard to ensure that US national security is protected, while encouraging foreign investment in the US."

Kashkari said that besides leading several policy initiatives for the Department, including the India initiative, he had also been involved in "enhancing US energy security by implementing policies that will over time, reduce our exposure to the global oil market by encouraging the development of alternative fuels and by improving the efficiency of our auto fleet."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington,DC