Governor Tom Vilsack says strong ties between Iowa and India are being solidified this week during his trade trip to the world’s second-largest country. State Representative Swati Dandekar of Marion, Iowa, who’s a native of India is along for the trip and Vilsack says her presence is key. “This may be one of the most successful trade missions we’ve had in a long time,” Vilsack says.

Vilsack says the president of the Des Moines Area Community College has signed an agreement with the Sehgal Foundation in India to establish two-year training campuses in India that are similar to Iowa’s community colleges. “It’s a remarkable opportunity for DMACC students to potentially have exchange opportunities as well as an opportunity for DMACC faculty to be able to be engaged as consultants,” Vilsack says.

Iowa State University’s president signed agreements with two universities in India that will allow for student and faculty exchanges as well. Vilsack speculates the Indian universities may collaborate on some research projects with I-S-U, too.

The governor says representatives of Iowa’s soybean industry met with two top officials in India’s government who are interested in importing high-grade U.S. soybean oil. “Figuring out ways in which the nutritional diets of pregnant women and young children can be improved by expanding the use of soybeans in their diet which in turn will create additional opportunities for export of our soybeans to India,” Vilsack says.

The governor says the Iowans also visited a computer services company in India that’s interested in opening a branch office in Iowa. In addition, a Marshalltown company engaged in some negotiations.
Fakespace Systems, a high-tech company that creates virtual reality software, “entered into very serious discussions with a number of Indian companies” according to Vilsack and the governor says those talks may lead to a number of contracts worth big bucks to the company. Vilsack is scheduled to meet with India’s prime minster on Saturday.

Vilsack and his wife, Christie, did get a bit sick at the beginning of the trip. Vilsack says he can’t say what happened, but falling ill when taking such a long trip is fairly common according to the governor. “It also works the other way when people from India travel to the United States they often respond to different bacterias differently,” Vilsack says. “But I’m fine now and Christie’s fine.”