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What Bush told young entrepreneurs

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March 06, 2006 15:13 IST

The Indian School of Business in Hyderabad had a rare honour last week. It became the first B-school in India to host an American President. And the sprawling campus on the outskirts of Hyderabad was also where President George Bush met with a group of young entrepreneurs.

President Bush saw reason for coming to the ISB. "It is a new school using innovative techniques to help people succeed," he said.

The students and entrepreneurs who had the rare honour of meeting and interacting with President Bush are ecstatic.

The entrepreneurs came from various backgrounds, ranging from technology to pharmaceuticals to textiles to media, and they all had different questions on various topics for the President.

Madhavi Vuppalapati, Satish Reddy, Prachi Patodia, Shankar Prasad, and Amar Ohri were some of these entrepreneurs who sought responses from President Bush with regard to various business- and trade-related aspects.

Anjali Patel, a student from the ISB Class of 2006, was an active participant and she drew the President's attention to 'compassionate capitalism' as represented by the funding of sustainable social venture projects.

Ruchi Bansal who had the honour of greeting President Bush on his arrival at the ISB, says, "The President's interest in the ISB students and young entrepreneurs here can be seen as a furthering of the knowledge partnership between the two countries."

"The ISB represents the future business leaders of India. We see President Bush's visit to the ISB as a recognition of India's growing importance in global business," says Bharath Aiyar.

Concurs Surendra Ruhela: "The visit of the US President to India and to the ISB is an acknowledgement of the growing importance of India on the global scale as an emerging economy. ISB is a global B-school in India. We feel fortunate to be a part of the occasion."

The participants of executive education programmes at the ISB were also equally delighted to be present at the ISB on the occasion. Munish Sapra, vice president & country head, The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), said: "I came to attend an executive education programme -- 'Leading High Impact Teams' -- at the ISB. Getting the opportunity to be a part of this event is an absolute bonus. This is a fantastic occasion."

Shyam Penumaka, who had worked in the US for 11 years before coming to India to pursue his post-graduate programme in business management from the ISB, said: "As an American of Indian origin, I am delighted to be here on this occasion. I did not have the opportunity to meet the President of the US during my 11 year stay in the US, but have managed to do so during the course of my 11-month stay here in India, at the ISB."

For students from various foreign universities who are here on their exchange programme with the ISB, it is an equally exciting opportunity. Edward Odumodo from the Duke University in the US, says, "I think it is quite exciting for me as an American to meet our President here in India!"

Angus Moon, an exchange student from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, had the good fortune of shaking hands with both President Mandela and President Clinton on their respective visits to South Africa.

He says: "I was in Botswana when President Clinton visited there, and also there in Cape Town when President Mandela came to visit at my University. And I am here in Hyderabad now when President Bush is visiting!"

Finally, what did some of the entrepreneurs ask the US President? And what did he tell them?

Madhavi Vuppalapati, an IT consultant: Does the US government have a political strategy to balance the backlash against outsourcing?

President Bush: One response to the situation is to indulge in protectionism and not allow outsourcing. I feel a better way of dealing with the situation would be to educate people so that they could fill jobs in the future. It is in the interest of the US to build better economic policies, welcome competition, and reject protectionism.

Globalisation is an opportunity that should be utilised to the fullest by all countries.

Satish Reddy, an entrepreneur from the pharmaceutical industry: Sir, what are your views on the pace of globalisation? Is isn't too fast for developing countries?

President Bush: Free trade is very important to develop markets and countries. There is scope for the US markets to open up further in terms of agriculture. The WTO can play an important role in such situations. Developing countries need to have a policy in terms of trade, which encourages farmers, invests in the health, education and welfare of people. Foreign aid provided to countries should encourage the right kind of behavior.

Prachi Patodia: Commenting on Mittal Steel's takeover bid of Acelor, Patodia wanted to know President Bush's take on the 'economic patriotism.'

President Bush: Initially, terminal ports in the US were managed largely by British companies. However, there was resistance when the management of these ports was being sold to Saudi Arabian individuals. Industries should not be subjected to ownership restrictions. . .  in some cases it was an issue of national security and the government had to put its foot down.

Prachi Patodia: Patodia's follow up question was on the fact that initially consignments were cleared by the US ports in 2-3 days but now it was taking anywhere between 7-10 days.

President Bush: This was a problem with labour and inefficiency. Open these ports. Yes, I got the message.

Finally, President Bush had the best news for India.

"This is a good time for India and the US to come together on issues like research. The US government is planning to increase the number of H-1B visas. The US schools have very little accountability at this stage and he was of the opinion that the education left scope for a lot of improvement. It is also very important to measure the progress of education."

George Iype