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CII takes Bollywood, East Bengal to China

August 02, 2003 10:22 IST

Filmmaker Subash Ghai, the East Bengal football club and a handful of Indian beauty queens will be the stormtroopers of an Indian assault on the giant Chinese market.

Ghai, the football team and the beauty queens are being roped in as part of an India Week extravaganza to take place in Shanghai and Beijing in mid-October. The show, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, aims to spread awareness about India.

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Says Piyush Behl, who heads CII's operations in East Asia: "The idea of the show is to build India as a brand and help the Chinese understand us. Business will follow."

Ghai will showcase a retrospective of six blockbuster films dubbed in Mandarin. And East Bengal -- fresh from a victory in the Asean Cup -- will play three friendly matches with football clubs in Beijing and Shanghai.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya may also turn up to scout for investors for a toy park proposed to be set up near Kolkata.

The CII has also roped in pop singer Remo Fernandez, who is expected to have the Chinese swinging to his feet-tapping numbers. But the sub-text is that Remo will also introduce Goa (his home) as the most exciting tourism destination in India to Chinese tourists.

Remo's efforts will be backed by the Goa government, which is putting up a grand carnival at the Workers Gymnasium in Beijing, complete with Goan dances and information about its balmy beaches and cuisine.

Indian fashion will also be in full bloom. Designer Ritu Beri has been roped in to organise a special evening for her works in Beijing and Shanghai. Glamour will also be represented in some other forms -- the CII is roping in former Miss Universes and Miss Worlds, who are expected to be crowd pullers at the show.

Ghai is not the only representative of the Indian film world. One-time leading lady Poonam Dhillon will make an appearance at the show. The CII has chosen Dhillon to represent the country because she starred in Noorie, one of the first films to be dubbed in Chinese and an instant hit in the country.

Of course, there will be serious business being discussed on the sidelines of the show. But talks will not be only about software and pharmaceuticals.

Take, for instance, the Delhi Public School group, which is looking at the possibility of opening a school in Shanghai. There are only around 500 Indians in China, but the school believes that if business picks up quickly, the number of Indians will increase dramatically.

All this is quite a change from the time when Indian businessmen appeared to be cowering in fear of the Chinese dragon. Now, they are going on the offensive. Says Behl: "In the last two years, corporate understanding of China has gone through a sea change."

The CII, of course, will be represented by a large 100-member delegation led by its, president Anand Mahindra. The government delegation will be headed by Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley. Punjab Chief minister Amarinder Singh will also visit the Middle Kingdom during the week.

The India Week will also have seminars and exhibitions to highlight India's skills in infotech, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, banking, automobile components and textiles. Even Shanaz Husain will take her herbal products to China.

Will this be the opening of a new chapter in Sino-Indian economic relations? Says Behl: "The endeavour is to see how we can use our bilateral synergies to exploit world markets."
Surajeet Das Gupta in New Delhi