Puri was closely involved in the passage of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008, and in 2011, Ishani Dutagupta of The Economic Times wrote that "for over a decade now, Sanjay Puri has been the face of Indian-Americans on Capitol Hill." He has worked with organizations such as USAID and OPIC on renewable energy projects, and he has been quoted as an expert on business and politics in The New York Times, The Washington Times, National Public Radio, PBS, CNN and Nightline. He was awarded the DY Patil University (DPU) Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2013.
Sanjay Puri was born in India, where he spent his youth. He began attending Gujarat University in the city of Ahmedabad in 1978, graduating two years later with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in business and accounting. At age 21 he traveled to Washington, D.C., where starting in 1982 he studied at the George Washington University School of Business. He graduated with an MBA in finance and investments in 1985. Early in his career he worked as a financial analyst at the World Bank.
Puri founded a health technology company after a brief tenure at the World Bank, and also became owner. His second startup company, Optimos, was founded as an IT services firm 1993, and that year the company began developing technology for government and commercial organizations out of its headquarters in Northern Virginia. Puri was appointed CEO and chairman of the Optimos advisory board.
In 1993 the Commonwealth of Virginia awarded Puri a grant to "re-train employees who had been laid off during the telecommunications bust" to work at Optimos, with Puri subsequently recruiting and retraining a number of laid-off workers. The company’s first client was the World Bank, with Optimos helping the bank implement the Lotus Notes software platform. Afterwards, Puri expanded employee training to cover SAP, Oracle, and Siebel Systems. After winning a Small Business Innovative Research Grant from the National Institute of Health in 1993, Puri began developing a system to diagnose Alzheimer’s using artificial intelligence. Optimos' clients over the ensuing decades included the Library of Congress, Federal Reserve Bank, National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Mint, and the National Labor Relations Board.
In July 2011, The Economic Times described Optimos as "among the top firms providing IT solutions to federal government agencies." Still serving as Optimos' chairman by 2012, as of late 2013 he continued to serve as CEO. Optimos Inc. was sold in 2014. After the sale of Optimos, Puri founded and invested in Wellisen, a nutraceutical health company, and serves as chairman. One of Puri's other recent ventures is BookChums, an online community and news portal for readers and students in India. BookChums also provides around 50,000 free eBooks, and has a virtual book share program.
In September 2002, Puri formally established the United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), a non-profit political action committee based in Washington, D.C.. He became chairman in October 2002. USINPAC described its goal as "working closely with other Indian-American organizations to promote fair and balanced policies, and create a platform to enable the entry of Indian Americans in the political process." Financed largely by individual donors, the organization supported seven American politicians in early 2003 for "their stand on immigration policy, relations with India and policies affecting Indian Americans in a post-September 11 scenario." USINPAC donated $50,000 to the campaigns, with five the seven candidates winning their race. On February 13, 2003, USINPAC organized the first India Caucus Day on Capitol Hill, with talks held by politicians such as Joe Crowley, Joe Wilson, Ed Royce, and Jim McDermott.
According to the Asia Times, USINPAC "put itself on the political map" in May 2003 when it "when it successfully lobbied for an amendment to the House's US$3 billion aid package for Pakistan that pressures Pakistan to stop Islamic militants from crossing into India." The amendment, which was proposed by Gary Ackerman of the India Caucus in the US Congress, called for "an end to US assistance until Pakistan stopped cross-border attacks in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir and gave up weapons of mass destruction." While Ackerman withdrew the amendment after disputes, Asia Times writes "what is important to note is that Ackerman and the USINPAC were not making empty threats: they had the capability to push through the amendment, and the White House knew it." Eni Faleomavaega of the India Caucus instead pushed an alternate amendment through, which among other points "ceased the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, including any associated technologies, to any third country or terrorist organization."
Puri founded the Alliance for US India Business (AUSIB) in 2005, and also serves as president and CEO. The non-profit trade organization is "dedicated to strengthening economic ties between the U.S. and India,"and "focuses on higher education collaborations, trade and business promotion initiative" between the two countries. Through AUSIB, he formed a US Congressional Taskforce on US-India Investment and Trade Relations. Since its founding, AUSIB has led dozens of high-profile delegations dealing with the issues of business, politics, and higher education, with Puri leading many of the delegations himself.
USINPAC set up operations in New Delhi in 2005, and that December Puri was named co-chair of a policy committee formed to focus on internet fraud and identity theft in the United States. Also starting in 2005, as chairman of USINPAC Puri was closely involved in the passage of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, with USINPAC playing a key role in getting it through Congress in 2008. The agreement, first drafted by American and Indian politicians in 2005 and announced by US President George W. Bush in March 2006, would "end a moratorium on sales of nuclear fuel and reactor components to India's civilian nuclear program." Among other events, USINPAC organized a fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton, whose support was considered crucial by some to the bill's success. According to The New York Times, it was hailed by officials as "historic" and "a centerpiece of American-Indian relations."
By June 2006 USINPAC had contributed a total of over $200,000 to Congressional candidates, and had raised campaign money at nine fund-raisers and receptions since January of that year. In 2009, Puri asserted to the press the USINPAC wanted to ensure that Indian-American candidates "don’t have to think twice about running because they didn't get the financial resources." The organization continued to be bipartisan as of 2011, with Ishani Dutagupta of The Economic Times writing on July 5, 2011 that "for over a decade now, Sanjay Puri has been the face of Indian-Americans on Capitol Hill.
By 2012 Puri had worked with both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) on issues such as US government funding for renewable energy projects. In 2013, he spoke at a number of events held in Washington D.C. These included the House Hearing on Natural Gas Exports in April, and the House Foreign Affairs Hearing in March. When asked about USINPAC's stance on the 2013 Indian elections, Puri reassured the press that USINPAC was against American politician's influencing the results, stating "there’s no shortage of qualified people [in India], so the US just needs to let Indians pick who they want.... We [at USINPAC] have worked diligently to make sure there are no undue influences on the election, and the [chairman] of the House Foreign Relations Committee [Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)] has assured us that they will stay out of the way."
Puri spoke during Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi's visit to New York City in September 2014, and also organized a number of political and corporate meetings for Modi. US Representative Eni Faleomavaega thanked Puri in an op-ed published in Business Today on September 25, 2014, stating in relation to Modi's US visit that "I applaud Sanjay Puri... for the prominent work he did to bring Vibrant Gujarat to the attention of US lawmakers at a time when Modi was Chief Minister. Puri was the first to advocate on Capitol Hill for Vibrant Gujarat and, as a result of his advocacy, Vibrant Gujarat has been made part of the Congressional Record for historical purposes." In January 2015, Puri spoke during Barack Obama's visit to India, and he continues to served as USINPAC's chairman. On May 23, 2015, The Economist referred to USINPAC as "the main political lobby for Indian-Americans in Washington." Puri is a founder of Autonebula, a connected car incubator.
Puri has been quoted as an expert in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Times, and The Hindu Business Line, and he has made appearances on National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting Service, CNN and Nightline. Puri has led numerous delegations in the United States and India focusing on issues related to business, politics, renewable energy, technology, defense, health, research and higher education. In 2007 he spoke at the Wisconsin International Trade Conference and at Kellogg School of Management, and the following year he was invited to speak at Harvard Business School in Boston, the Wharton India Forum in Philadelphia, and the Tuck India Business Conference at Dartmouth College, among other engagements. He spoke at several American conferences in 2009, including the International Relations Conference, the 13th Annual Wharton India Economic Forum, the National Retail Federation Conference, and the India Leadership Summit at the University of Chicago.
After appearing on National Public Radio in February 2010, later that year he also spoke at American events such as the India Conference at Harvard Business School, the World Affairs Council, the AAPI Conference, and the International Leadership Foundation Conference. He also traveled to Mumbai, India in September 2010 to speak at the India Retail Forum. In 2011, he spoke at the Duke India Business Forum and the United States Institute of Peace. In 2011 and 2013 he hosted large US India education conclaves, while other conferences he has hosted include briefings related to immigrations and the Conference on HIV AIDS Cooperation between the US and India. He has hosted congressional briefings on US-India Counterterrorism Cooperation, and in 2012, he hosted the first US Congressional India Renewable Energy Conference as president of AUSIB. In 2013 he spoke at the National War College, the Heritage Foundation, and the International Leadership Foundation. He has recently been facilitating and releasing a series of webcasts titled Indian Diaspora Leadership Dialogues, which focus on elections and issues of interest to the Indian-American community.
Around 2012 the US Attorney’s Office began an investigation into whether Engage Medical Inc. had overbilled Medicare for nuclear stress tests from 2007 until 2011. Engage Medical argued that a single employee had unintentionally misused billing codes with "no malicious intent," defending the employee and stating the errors were "a regrettable mistake but not an intentional effort to violate billing regulations." Arguing it was fully compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Engage continued to do business as a medical technology company. With Puri agreeing to "cooperate fully" with any ongoing investigations, in 2014 Engage Medical and three similar companies from the Washington D.C. area chose to settle a combined civil suit for a total of $3.34 million, with Engage paying $544,500 of the total.
Engage Medical's lawyer, Adam Lurie of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, explained that settling was chosen as a course of action to "avoid the delay, uncertainty, inconvenience and expense of protracted litigation..." "concerning the interpretation of billing regulations." On February 18, 2014, the U.S. Attorney's office in Maryland published a press release announcing the settlement. As the press release didn't clarify whether the companies were liable for the allegations, Engage Medical afterwards threatened to sue the U.S. Department of Justice for defamation. In what Reuters dubbed an "unusual" move, the U.S. Department of Justice revised its old press release ten months later, clarifying on December 4, 2014 that there was "no finding of liability" concerning Engage Medical, and that "the claims settled by the agreement were allegations.'"
In 2004 Puri was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the Virginia Minority Supplier, and in 2005 he was nominated for an Executive of the Year Award from Accenture. The International Leadership Foundation named him an honoree for their 2012 Leadership Award, and Narayan Rane presented Puri with a DY Patil University (DPU) Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2013.
Sanjay Puri currently lives in northern Virginia.