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Schwarzenegger to lead trade team to India

By Suman Guha Mozumder in California
Last updated on: August 14, 2006 10:42 IST
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Acting partly on the suggestion of his wife Maria Shriver, said to be a great lover of India, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced plans to lead a business delegation to India early in 2007.

The high-level delegation, Schwarzenegger said, will seek to enhance trade and explore avenues to foster technology and industry-level partnership on a company-to-company as well as at a higher administrative level.

"I propose to bring leaders of between 50-100 business units who could meet with their counterparts, speak with political leaders and foster new alliances," Schwarzenegger said in his first ever brief interaction with journalists of Indian origin ahead of a fund-raiser organised by high-power Indian American community leaders in the Silicon Valley.

"We need to see how California can increase trade with India. How India can manufacture more for California. We must find where we can share technologies," he said.

The Governor felt that the movie industry was definitely one of the areas where California and India could both benefit. "We've the world's largest movie industry in California and the most productive movie business in India, which makes more than 700 films a year," he said.

Schwarzenegger said that his love for India stemmed from the links that his wife Shriver has built up with the country in recent times. "Maria was in India last week where she met the Dalai Lama as well as many not-for-profit organisations working in the area of helping mentally challenged children," he said.

Saying that he had a 50-50 partnership with his wife, who is the niece of the legendary John F. Kennedy, Schwarzenegger mentioned that she played a role in suggesting the trade mission to India as well as collaboration in the Special Olympics for people with mental disabilities. "She is very enthusiastic about India and I look forward to our visit," he said.

Schwarzenegger ruled out, however, the need for setting up trade offices in India because, "These offices seldom achieve the purpose for which they've been set up."

He said his idea instead was to bring business leaders of the two regions together on a platform from where they could explore common ground and consider new ventures. Schwarzenegger said he would like to sit down with business and political leaders and plan out some events like fashion shows or food shows.

"This would give companies a chance to display their wares. We could even have video footage of Californian delights. Where else in the world could you surf in the morning, snow ski in the afternoon and play golf in the desert in the evening before having that candle-lit dinner with your wife at night," he asked.

Asked about the role he saw for Indian Americans in his administration, the Governor said he would be only pleased to ensure that the administration reflected the nature of California's population.

"If that means having a lot of people from India in top positions, we have to make that representation," he said adding that he would be the first one to accept recommendations for positions like judges, in government and in commissions.

Praising the contribution of Indian Americans to the development of California 's economy, the Governor said, "You people are always known for what you do for the State and not for what you want done by the State. All of you have come here seeking an opportunity and once you made it big, you've given back to society."

The event, held at the residence of Bay Area entrepreneur and TiE Silicon Valley president Raj Jaswa, was co-hosted by Kanwal and Ann Rekhi, Sanjay and  Suniti Subhedar, the Kumar Malavalli Family, Promod and Dorcas Haque, Naren and Vinita Gupta, Arjun Gupta and Romesh and Kathleen Wadhwani.

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Suman Guha Mozumder in California