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Indian industrialists hope to break ice in China
M D Riti in Bangalore | June 21, 2003 18:27 IST
"China is such an enigma for everyone," says Vinay Deshpande, head of the Bangalore chapter of CII and CEO of Encore Software Solutions, Bangalore.
"It may not be possible for us to understand the ground realities of working with China in just three days, but we can certainly make a good beginning."
Deshpande is one of the industrialists from Bangalore who will accompany Prime Minister A B Vajpayee on his Chinese sojourn this weekend.
According to him, the main agenda of the businessmen from Bangalore who are going on this trip is to explore Chinese turf and try to understand what business opportunities India might have there.
"We can see first hand whether we should be afraid of China or work with them," said Deshpande, in an exclusive conversation with rediff.com from his software office in Bangalore.
"Rather than be afraid, we should take them on, either as adversaries, where that is required, or as friends, and tap their markets fully. If we don't, someone else will."
For these men of business, who have until now, relied on the media for information on business conditions in China, while they themselves were more than 5,000 km away from that country, this trip should certainly be an eye opener.
"We would really like to understand China better," says Pawan Kumar, CEO of vMoksha Technologies Pvt Ltd of Bangalore.
"If there are ways we can work together, it would be beneficial for both. That is the true focus of our trip. It is not software alone that is of interest to our Indian entrepreneurs," he said.
"This time, the focus is a lot on hardware, with the Chinese ministry of electronics publicly announcing its interest in investing in India," says Deshpande. "Indian companies are now especially interested in exploring the possibility of having joint ventures with Chinese firms."
Adds Som Mittal, Chairman, Nasscom: "There has been so much hype on China, and the industry there. We are happy to have this opportunity to see for ourselves what the situation is really like over there."
The telecom sector will be another strong focus area. "China is a manufacturing country, so we want to see what we can do with them in the telecom area," says Rajamohan Rao of United Telecom.
Most of these travelers have personal agendas connected with their own companies, as well as a broader general agenda of spreading goodwill and fostering a wider business association with China.
Deshpande, for example, is all set to assess whether there is any potential for selling any of his company Encore's intellectual properties there.
He also wants to see whether there is any scope for the marketing of the Simputer there. "Many firms have shown great interest in our Simputer," says Deshpande, referring to the simple, low-cost computer his firm is making in Bangalore.
"It remains to be seen whether this interest is for real or not."
It certainly looks as if, after all these years of ups and downs, the IT industry might well be the catalyst that triggers better relations between these two countries.
"I think this renewal of ties is being driven by business reality, rather than by just the IT industry alone," says Deshpande modestly.
"China is smart. It knows where there will be an advantage to it. We are both South Asian economies, after all. And this is the century for South Asia!"