California State Capitol

A California-India Kinship in Trade, Culture, and the Environment


The Lieutenant Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis, visited India in January along with the Bay Area Business Council, in the aim of deepening collaboration with India in trade, strengthening cultural ties, and to work together to combat air pollution. California’s 13th largest trading partner is India, with trade in 2018 amounting to $10 billion. With India’s prominent role in California’s state economy, representatives believe that India is a key opportunity market to build and sustain.

State officials hope to promote travel trade with India. Currently 353 000 Indian tourists explore California every year, spending $1.2 billion annually, providing the state economy with a significant boost. Californian President of United Airlines, Janet Lamkin, was also part of the Bay Area delegation, promoting a new direct flight between San Francisco and New Delhi. California hopes to increase tourism from India by promoting cultural ties, focusing on enhancing the connection between California’s ‘Hollywood’ and India’s ‘Bollywood’. In a meeting between the Bay Area delegation and the Producers Guild of India in New Delhi, filming incentives in California were presented to promote film, television, and new media work.

The cultural ties are cemented in an economic parity between India and California. India’s $2.7 trillion economy is the closest national economy in size to California’s $3 trillion economy. The state of California is also looking to improve trade relations in the technology sector by focusing on increasing investment. President and CEO of the Bay Area Council expressed that “India’s technology, scale, entrepreneurial energy, and cultural ties to the region link it powerfully to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley”. The Bay Area is home to many Indian technology professionals who are emblematic of the strong relationship between California and India. This was highlighted by the Bay Area Business Council who expressed the importance of growing investment in the tech sector in collaboration with India.

The cultural and economic partnership is intended to be emblematic in Californian-Indian investment in the environment. The two are hoping to collaborate on combating air pollution, focusing on finding more sustainable sources of energy. Both India and California noted high emissions from vehicles – and both wish to collaborate on lowering carbon emissions. This partnership is hoped to be underpinned by investments in the technology sector, focusing on “clean energy and clean transportation”.

India shares a total of 12 sister cities with California, more than with any other US state. There is no doubt that the future relationship will continue to grow. Blossoming California-India kinship will have positive implications for both economies, peoples, and the environment.

Angelina Gu is a participant of the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a second year undergraduate student at the University of Sydney studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in History and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Politics and International Relations).