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Chidambaram sets the bullish tone
BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi | December 06, 2004 10:44 IST
"Some of you may have found it difficult to find hotel rooms in Delhi. Take comfort from the fact that even Tom Hanks could not find a room for himself in Belgium," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told participants at the 20th India Economic Summit. The import of Chidambaram's advice to the participants was not lost.
The Indian economy is booming despite the erratic monsoon and Chidambaram was driving home the point in all subtlety. He may have been overzealous in inviting the international investor community to be a part of the great Indian "opportunity," but a look at the participants this time would be of great encouragement to the organisors.
Those listening to Chidambaram included US Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs John B Taylor, Bajaj Auto chairman Rahul Bajaj, Hero Corporate Services MD & CEO Sunil Kant Munjal, Max India managing director Analjit Singh, WTO director general Supachai Panitchpakdi and Volvo India managing director Ravi Uppal.
Notable international participants at the summit, to be held over the next two days, include Michelle Guthire, CEO Star Asia, and Rolf E Breuer, chairman of the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank.
Industry associations from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have also sent their representatives. "We are here to learn from the experience in India. Besides, this is one the largest business meets in the region," said Imtiyaz Husain, chairman of Imtiyaz Husain & Co from Bangladesh.
Besides the large number of participants from the neighbouring countries there was a large posse of security guards at the venue.
According to one of the CII insiders, the reason behind the elaborate security was the anti-WTO protests held by an organisation last year.
The BBC World debate on energy, which kicked off the summit, wasn't much of a crowdpuller. But the delegates were excited about the day ahead.
"Things have moved ahead in India. From a country apologising for not implementing reforms, India has transformed into a more confident nation. We are here to see what it has to offer us," said Georges Ugeux, chairman and CEO of Galileo Advisory.
Like him, many other delegates, particularly from the Saarc nations, felt the summit would be their platform to a bigger South Asia.
And this was the reason why most Bangladeshi delegates present at the BBC debate raised questions on opportunities in hydel power and LNG sectors in India and Nepal.
It is, however, the Shell officials in their yellow shell motif ties who were most conspicuous and vocal about how an integrated energy policy should be chalked out for sustainable energy resources.
"The South Asian countries have a major potential, particularly in natural gas. But, the need of the hour is an integrated policy for cheaper technology and cheaper fuel," a Shell official said.