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SABA At Harvard Business School Organizes India Conference

Nirmala Garimella

As India marked its 57th anniversary with celebrations, SABA, the South Asian Business Association and the South Asian Business clubs of the Harvard Business School celebrated its achievements by organizing the India Conference 2007 at the Cambridge campus.

Panel discussions ranged from Entrepreneurship and Emerging markets, Indian Firms going global and the rise of Social Enterprise through Innovative programs, US India Relations and the strategic and economic implications wit the signing of the NSSP , Venture Capital and Private equity and the Indian Capital markets. India’s role as a rising economy and its ramifications and the challenges its faces were the main themes throughout the evening.

Keynote speakers for the evening were Shantanu Narayen, President and Chief Operating Officer, Adobe, Charles Kaye, Co-President, Warburg Pincus LLC and Chairman, US India Business Council, R Goplalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons and Raj Jain, President of Emerging markets, Wal-Mart.

Shantanu Narayen gave an overview of Adobe’s growth in India and said that India’s strength lay in its soft infrastructure and a world class management talent. Charles Kaye gave a presentation and called it 'the tale of the two India’s'. Terming India as “an enigma wrapped in a conundrum’ he said that challenges such as excessive regulation, Infrastructure bottlenecks and sometimes messy politics can be some of the constraints of investors. "Much of India’s growth will depend on how it will sustain non inflationary growth and integration with the global macro economy and geopolitical order. He ended by saying that in India it would seem that ‘nothing is allowed but everything is possible’

R. Goplalakrishna sent ripples and sparks in the audience in his closing speech by saying India is more than just IT and the manufacturing sector is also making major inroads. Calling it  a country of strange paradoxes where ‘we do the obvious when nothing works”, he spoke on how India rose from an impoverished nation to a ongoing journey of recovery and growth. Although India is being recognized as an IT superpower it is only because it is a vital part of the US economy. “It is however like a rat in a drawing room which is still is a factor to contend with”, he concluded. "Although much of India is still dependant on its agriculture, this is on its paradoxes", he said. He touched upon the role of urbanization and the process of reform as different from other nations saying “we believe in doing things differently.” He ended his speech by showing a still from the film where Raj Kapoor sings the song My shoes are Janpanese(Mera Jootha hain Japani) yet my heart remains quintessentially Indian. (Phir bhi dil Hain Hindustani).

Raj Jain called India an attractive market and said that the unorganized retail is almost 93% in India and organized retail market like Wal-Mart might appeal to India’s middle class. However,“the supply chain and infrastructure can pose a challenge too.” He contended that modern trade can provide food processing facilities which are a huge opportunity that would also benefit the farmer in the long run.

The sponsors for the event were Tata, Exactus,WNS,and HBS4A.





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