EDGARD KAGAN, US Consul General in Mumbai, addresses the audience at CWAB. Excerpts...
I really had a passion for urban planning and I wish I had the skills to go into architecture. My first job out of university was with the New York City Bureau of Bridges. At that time, infrastructure was not sexy v it was quite the opposite. There was a sense that there was going to be this huge global demand for infrastructure in the future. And at the same time, we needed to revitalise infrastructure in the US and around the world in countries that were more developed.
It is remarkable to come to India today and see the extraordinary impact of all the work that people building infrastructure have had, and the impact infrastructure continues to have on construction in India.
The work you winners are doing is hugely important, not just for India but for the US and the world.
With the privilege of representing the US in India, I am deeply committed to the idea that we have a huge interest in India's success. We have had two meetings in New Delhi recently between our respective ministers of external affairs who, I think, have shown interest in increasing strategic convergence between our countries. And that convergence is driven by a long-term conviction that the US will benefit from an India that is successful. At the heart of that success is this extraordinary transition we are seeing as India sees a shift from rural to urban and, at the same time, upgrades urban infrastructure to both, accommodate that shift and reflect the aspirations of the Indian people.
So all of you are the heart of that! And your successes are India's successes and the US's successes and the world's success because we need your success.
I am happy to see that a number of leading American companies are coming into construction in India. And, I think it is because they see the opportunities all of you have seen for a long time. We are looking to see what we can do to help support this, because we believe strongly that the opportunities here are only going to grow in coming years.
I want to commend the CWAB Awards because I think this reflects not just the desire to build but a desire to build well and a recognition that I am sure all of you share v that it is not just about doing the minimum, it is about trying to build for the long term for the future. I think they are trying to create a culture of excellence and reflecting excellence.
An architect friend of mine told me numerous times that it's not just enough to talk about excellence, people have to be willing to pay for itaand building a culture of getting people to recognise that they are paying a little bit more to get sustainability. To get long-term success is something that is a viable investment that will pay its own dividends. I do believe that supporting the idea that excellence matters and quality matters is absolutely critical to make sure the culture of demanding excellence goes out and people recognise the importance of sustainability and the importance of making sure that assets are going to last for generations v and are built that way.