Strengthening a bond, New Jersey-India Commission created

Mathews from Choose New Jersey will chair 39-person board that aims to increase business, cultural ties between state and country

The partnership and connections between New Jersey and India are almost too many to mention — but too significant to ignore.

You can start with the fact that approximately 5% of New Jersey’s population is South Asian, many of whom are located in dynamic clusters in Edison/Iselin, Jersey City and Robbinsville.

Then, add the fact that New Jersey has the highest concentration of Indian companies of any state in the country and that India is second-largest foreign direct investor in the state.

All of which leads to this: The two-way trade between New Jersey and India tops $10 billion annually.

It’s the reason why India is the only country that features two Choose New Jersey offices, and why, on Tuesday, New Jersey officially created the New Jersey-India Commission — just the third such commission in state history.

“This is a statement about the breadth, scale and size of not just the relationship as it is today — everything from the diaspora living here, to the jobs created, to the trade between India and New Jersey — but also a statement about the potential future growth of all of the above,” Gov. Phil Murphy said shortly after signing an Executive Order that brought the commission to life.

The commission, which features 39 members from a variety of fields, will be headed by Wes Mathews, the CEO of Choose New Jersey, as chairperson. An executive director will be announced in the future, Murphy said.

The commission members are a who’s who of state leaders in numerous sectors, including Kris Kolluri of the Gateway Development Commission, Indu Lew and Balpreet Grewal-Virk of RWJ Baranabas Health, Jose Lozano of Hackensack Meridian Health, Coleen Burrus of Princeton University, Raj Parikh of Genova Burns, Pavita Howe of BioNJ, Parimal Garg of the Governor’s Office and state Sens. Vin Gopal (D-Ocean Twp.) and Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City).

Murphy said the depth of talent shows why the potential impact is so great.

“We’ve got a mix of all different types of folks, geographically, in Jersey, but also in occupations,” he said. “I think you’re going to see impact.”

The relationship between New Jersey and India has been apparent from a population perspective for years. The business relationship, however, has picked up considerably since Murphy took office in 2018.

In 2019, Murphy became the first sitting governor from New Jersey to visit India — although he had been there many times previously as a private citizen.

His visit, part of an economic trade mission through Choose New Jersey, has grown in significance. India is now the most visited destination of U.S. governors — a sign of the country’s growing significance when it comes to trade of goods and services, as well as partnerships through higher education.

Murphy summed it up this way.

“Put aside the substance of the commission and the extraordinary talent. This is also a signal — a statement that we’re taking this (relationship) seriously,” he said. “There’s an enormous competition right now for investment and trade partnerships.”

Murphy feels the commission is just another reason New Jersey has an edge. For the governor, it all goes back to the connections.

“We match up very well with India,” he said. “It’s an economy that looks like a supersize version of the New Jersey economy.”

The commission:

  • Dini Ajmani
  • Natasha Alagarasan
  • Sri Atluri
  • Snehal Batra
  • Coleen Burrus
  • Ravi Dattatreya
  • Kirti Desai
  • Parimal Garg
  • Vin Gopal
  • Balpreet Grewal-Virk
  • Kiran Handa Gaudisoso
  • Pavita Howe
  • Jaime Jacob
  • Monica Jain
  • Gurbir Johal
  • Suchitra Kamath
  • Krishna Kishore
  • Vidya Kishore
  • Kris Kolluri
  • Indu Lew
  • Jose Lozano
  • Wes Mathews
  • Anjali Mehrota
  • Deelip Mhaske
  • Raj Mukherji
  • Suresh Muthuswami
  • Srinivas Pallia
  • Anand Paluri
  • Falguni Pandya
  • Carrie Parikh
  • Rajiv Parikh
  • Gurpreet Pasricha
  • Deepak Raj
  • Jatin Shah
  • Huzaifa Shakir
  • Sterley Stanley
  • Ragy Thomas
  • Steven Van Kuiken
  • Christina Zuk