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'Karnataka will pull out all stops to attract investment'
'We offer a pro-active régime, an investor-friendly climate, skilled manpower, a good labour force, excellent infrastructure, security and abundant natural resources to all investors,' says Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna.

''Speed of communication will change the world forever''
'Optical communication will the driving force in the future. There'll also be increased use of the Internet and multimedia-enabled PCs, creating huge demand for optical components like lasers, optical amplifiers, etc. This is where our focus will be,' says Bell Labs' president Arun Netravali.

'Unlike families, professionals run businesses better'
'With growing competition from multinationals, the family businesses are left with no other option but to turn to professionals. It is a good trend,' says Eicher Group's new chairman S Sandilya who has succeeded Subodh Bhargava.

'What oil is to Middle East, infotech is to India'
'India will ride the IT wave to emerge as a global super power. Information technology will make India one of the strongest forces in the world,' says P S Subramanyam, chairman of the Unit Trust of India while talking to Pritish Nandy.

'Old Economy is going to be right here'
'Privatising public sector mammoths in aviation, tourism and telecom industries will rid the country of national debt worth more than Rs 300 billion,' says Arun Bharat Ram, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry.

'FIIs are most active, but they aren't the major players'
'Fundamentals are strong in India. The capital goods industry has turned the corner. Cyclicals are looking good. Balance of Payments and currency reserves are healthy,' says Raman Sidhu, director, HSBC Securities.

'The Plan panel must stop just allocating funds and get involved in thought process as well'
'There are people who still can't get one square meal a day. And we talk about globalisation and liberalisation. Till such time as their condition improves, subsidies must continue,' says K Yerrannaidu, leader of the Telugu Desam Party in Parliament.

'India has finally merged with global knowledge economy. I see 7-8 Indian firms listing on NASDAQ this year.'
'We will set up a representative office in India soon. This will help Indian companies list on NASDAQ. We are bullish on India as it has the talent to create wealth through knowledge,' says NASDAQ president Alfred Berkley.

'If removal of quantitative restrictions has adverse impact, we'll counter it through the weapon of tariff'
'My recent China visit has been an eye-opener. The enormous interest evinced by city and provincial officials in matters like foreign investment and exports is an example that needs to be emulated,' says India's Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran.

'There are more advantages in India than in China'
'The whole world has recognised India's future in knowledge-based industries. It's the new economy and India has a big role to play. There's a lot more young Indian entrepreneurs can do if they are given the money. They have the idea, and I'd just like to help them realise it,' says Kerry Packer. Royal hospitality in India floors Aussie 'uncle and cousin'.

'Globalisation will destroy India!'
'Do you want India to be ruled by greedy, power-hungry corporates? Or would you rather be ruled by your own people, whatever their failings may be? That is the choice before India,' says Edward Goldsmith, environmentalist and editor, The Ecologist.

'Clinton wears our T-shirts. We rule the export market. Nothing can stop us from succeeding in India now'
'We are ready and strong enough to take on any competition. It will be very difficult for foreign brands to come to India and match our prices,' says V Krishnan, general manager, GTN Textiles.

'Business houses in and outside US will look more seriously at India'
'The old economy is over -- it is the Internet, the cyberspace that is the future. Other knowledge-based industries like pharma and biotech will also see India leading the world,' says A J Patel, chairman, Odyssey Enterprises Inc, and a member of the Clinton entourage.

'In the next five years, Indo-US trade will be in favour of India'
'The US will invest in India's knowledge-based industries, but not in agriculture. We are information managers, that is where our expertise is, so let's make money out of this expertise,' says the US-based Sunil Puri, chief executive, First Rockford Company, who is a member of Bill Clinton's entourage.

'But for the regulatory mechanisms, India is quite conducive for investments'
"The US realises it'll require Indian expertise in the knowledge-based industries to fuel its economic growth. The timing of Clinton's visit is significant. The point is not for how much longer he is going to be in office, but that the beginning has been made at the right time," says Kailash Joshi of The Indus Entrepreneurs, who is part of Clinton's entourage to India.

'Budget is expected to create greater lending opportunities for banks'
"I expect a reduction in the surcharge on the corporate tax, tax on agricultural income and measures to induce increased savings and investments. All this would mean revitalisation of the corporate sector," says K P Padmakumar, chairman, Federal Bank and Private Sector Banks' Association.

'India needs a crisis to reform. We cannot reform without a crisis'
"The economy is recovering and this in turn will itself mean more revenue for the government. So the government is not under pressure to raise taxes and I think raising taxes will be a big mistake," Dr Subir Gokarn, chief economist, the National Council for Applied Economic Research.

'Matiz will be the best selling car in the coming year'
"The lull is over, the passenger car market in India is growing at a rapid rate. Hence there will be place for all the players," says Young-Chang Kim, MD, Daewoo Motor India.

'There has been a method in our supergrowth'
"Since 1985, we didn't stray. No steel mills, no paper mills, no mini-cement plants, cinema halls or hotels -- all these opportunities did come to us. But we single-mindedly concentrated on telecom," says Sunil Bharti Mittal, who has emerged as India's biggest telecom tycoon.

'Govt can help the seafood sector to emerge as the biggest forex earner'
'For FIs and banks, the seafood industry is a taboo. Some states have imposed 1% cess on seafood exports. The Budget must throw up a solution,' says Elias Sait, president, the Seafood Exporters' Association of India.

'It's only a matter of time before Indian brands emerge in the global market'
'There's no guarantee that the 100 per cent unit set up by the MNC partner in a joint venture, will be a success. Indian companies have their own strengths with which to fight global competition, says Prof Krishna Palepu of the Harvard Business School.

'Cheap second hand cars won't affect the two-wheeler market'
"Consumers are already aware of the pollution problems, now if you give them a solution, I think they will buy it," says Arun Firodia, chairman, Kinetic Engineering which is launching eco-friendly two-wheelers.

'The experiment of businessmen involving themselves in Bangalore's development will start a trend'
"Hyderabad coming up from nowhere and attracting some of the world's best corporations has given S M Krishna a wake-up call, and that is not a bad thing," says B V Jagadeesh, co-founder, Exodus Communications, who has donated $1 million for the uplift of Bangalore schools.

'Marketing through the Net will become intuitive and thought-driven'
'India will capture the global change in attitude and ideas. India has the potential, technology will be the means, to become truly global. We can take on each Americans one-to-one and beat them to pulp,' says Seagram Asia-Pacific chairman Ramesh Vangal.

'So why should the common man pay for someone else's theft?'
'If the SEB cannot improve its financial position, slowly there will be no investment available for further expansion and the present system will just not be able to cope. Such states will have darkness!' says P R Kumaramangalam.

'There is a good case to delink divestment from the Budget'
"Writing an article is the easiest thing in the world to do; divestment (of government stake in public sector units), comparatively, is a far more difficult thing," says Arun Jaitley, Minister for I&B and Divestment.

'The two-wheeler market in India is moving towards motorcycles'
"Nobody -- not even our competition -- saw the shift in preference for motorcycles coming. So the entire industry is suffering," says Rajiv Bajaj, vice-president of scooter major Bajaj Auto.

'Political stability, huge scientific base, large English-speaking workforce are an advantage for India over China'
'India should use the rhetoric of democracy and transparency on the Western nations to get men of their choice appointed as the heads of the IMF and the World Bank,' says Harvard economist Prof Jeffrey D Sachs.

'India's auto industry will soon see a million new cars a year'
'India is a truly global market reflecting the global trends. Cut in customs duty on second-hand cars won't affect the existing players much,' says Kosuke Yamamoto, executive vice-president, Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan.

'We must benchmark ourselves against the best in the world'
'The creation of wealth is very badly needed in India because we need to create more and more jobs. I don't see that happening in the agricultural sector. So we have to move more and more people from agriculture to industry,' says Infosys chairman N R Narayana Murthy.

'There is need for a negotiated settlement of trade issues'
'The British government is firmly opposed to the use of trade sanctions to enforce labour standards. Driving countries into deeper poverty through trade sanctions will not improve their labour standards. It does not make sense,' says Stephen Byers, British secretary of state for trade and industry.

'A business should be run only by professionals'
'If six out of ten billionaires in India are first-generation entrepreneurs, it doesn't mean that others are doing badly. It could simply be that the market is not giving high valuations to non-pharma, non-IT and non-consumer goods companies,' says Vijay Sankar, heir to the Chemplast Sanmar fortune.

'LIC will be more than a match for competitors'
''We've 650,000 agents and 125,000 employees. Yet, we are able to cover only about 110 million out of the 350 million insurable population. The untapped field is huge, offering scope to competitors.... Privatisation of insurance will generate more funds for the government," says LIC chairman G Krishnamurthy.

'Other industries will also gain from insurance liberalisation'
'If India thinks a cap on foreign equity is necessary, we are happy to abide by it. Insurance is not a fly-by-night business, players are here for the long term,' says Mike J Levett, chairman, Old Mutual of South Africa.

'Two brothers, Manu and Kishore, who fought, abused each other publicly, have joined hands to take on UB'
'Indian Made Foreign Liquor is made in a particular way and there are no recipe secrets like Coca-Cola. Once we get the Shaw Wallace brands, we will make the stuff ourselves,' says Vijay Mallya.

'Privatisation does not imply a retreat by the government'
'Privatisation in Malaysia has seen a marked improvement in efficiency, in management of operations; it has facilitated access to commercial investments and latest technology,' says Dato' Seri S Samy Vellu, Malaysia's minister for works.

'Shopping at a store isn't a low-cost proposition'
"E-commerce will eliminate the store front but it will require a home delivery system. The question is, who is going to pay for it in the long run?" asks Douglas Lewis, vice-president, DHL Worldwide Express.

'Television has come full circle, from local to national to local content. The real challenge now is to create a new paradigm'
"The ad revenues are skewed in favour of the national channels. That will change in the next five years. It's already changing in South India," says R Basu, bureaucrat-turned-chief executive- turned-entrepreneur.

'Govt's hypocritical: it wants foreign investors but not their views on child labour'
"If consumers abroad declare that they will not buy Indian goods made by child labour, then I see nothing wrong in it," says Kailash Satyarthi, chairman, the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude.

'The three airports in Kerala can be in business without affecting each other'
"We hope to have direct international flights from European countries. I'm sure that in two-three years, the Rs 2.3 billion Cochin International Airport Limited will turn profitable," says its MD V J Kurien.

'Infrastructure won't get any funds if insurance is privatised'
'There is a high rate of failure of private insurance companies in the US. That private companies' service will be efficient is debatable. Private companies will invest their profits according to what the market considers important,' says Prakash Karat of the CPI-M.

'The fashion industry is not taken very seriously here'
Jagsharan Jeet Valaya, the high priest of haute coutre, continues our series celebrating the spirit of Indian enterprise.

'I insist on simplicity. That is the key to my designs' begins an occasional series of interviews celebrating the spirit of Indian enterprise. Shyam Ahuja, the caliph of the carpet, in conversation with Pritish Nandy.

'Today, you can start a corporation with $5.5'
'When you do business on the Internet, intellectual capital will become more important than financial capital. If the developing countries take care of their people, they can gain an advantage over others,' says Jacques Creeten, MD, Federal Express India.

'India is one of the least insured countries, and potential for insurance is extremely high'
'When we go to the WTO and ask for regulations on e-commerce, we would have a much better case if India and the US have a common base,' says former US ambassador to India Frank Wisner.

'Product costs in India could have been 50% less but for an efficient transport system'
'What you find in India is national distribution that is more tax-driven than cost-driven or service-driven. As long as the tax differences between the states continue, this won't change,' says Joachim Miebach, founder-chairman, Miebach Logistics of Germany.

'Industry has no choice but to accept techniques like logistics'
'Unless companies supply products on time, unless they get things done on time, India's competitiveness is going to get eroded,' says L Ganesh, chairman, CII southern region.

'By 2002, India will be one of the two biggest and strongest markets'
'The day foreign players make successful killings, the market will explode. The Indian capital market is all set to see a boom the likes of which we can never anticipate,' says Harshad Mehta.

'If they had only listened to Harshad Mehta, no one would have lost any money'
'Even if the judge deep down in his heart actually believes that Harshad Mehta is totally innocent, it is very difficult (with all due respect to him) to acquit him,' says lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani.

'Indian companies are unable to translate customer requirements into products'
'Indian managers aren't practical. They isolate themselves from reality. They think knowledge can be gained only by reading books and attending lectures. They don't roll up their sleeves and get into some action,' says Kaizen expert Masaaki Imai.

'Indian firms let us down, MNCs supported us'
Ambit Corporate Finance was put together by former Arthur Andersen whizzes in 1997. It is now making waves. Pritish Nandy interviews Ambit's MD Ashok Wadhwa.

'Chandmama should replace cartoon channels'
'If someone can sponsor a cricket match spending to the extent of the expenditure of the Kargil war, why can't the same company come forward for the betterment of the younger generation?' asks Chandamama's editor and managing director B Viswanatha Reddy.

'India is ready for divestment'
'The new government should pass the Insurance Regulatory Authority Bill as soon as possible and approve foreign investment in the sector,' says Tarun Das, the CII's secretary-general.

Faster, Bigger, Better
Pritish Nandy interviews Shashi Gopal, Magnasound's chief, who has completed 25 years in the music business. '600 megastores will open soon. The music market is growing bigger. New stars will emerge every week,' says Gopal.

'Fiction is no more the bestseller'
Landmark bookstore's Hemu Ramaiah on the business of books.

'Naidu has surrendered Andhra Pradesh to corporates'
Kerala Chief Minister E K Nayanar dissects the Indian economy.

'Indian customers are not aggressive in their demands'
Venu Srinivasan, CMD, TVS Suzuki, talks about the changing tastes of vehicle-users in India, new technologies, the price barriers, emissions and pollution, the two-wheeler industry in India and his company's future plans.

'India's become like Italy: govts come and go, and industry takes care of itself'
'The MNCs have got the number of middle class people in India all wrong. So, they brought the Escorts and the Astras. Only the Santros, the Matizes and the Indicas will survive here,' says K Mahesh, CMD, Sundaram Brake Lining.

'We offer certain services that cannot be matched by foreign banks'
'The presence of banks with global-scale exposure in India is bound to improve the general attitude to work in all banks. So will computerisation,' says M N Dandekar, secretary of the Indian Banks' Association.

'Bombay needs a world class mall'
'Crossroads will have something for every member of a family. It will provide the finest shopping, games and food, all under one roof, bringing the best to the Indian consumer,' says Ajay Piramal, promoter of 'India's first mall'.

'Businessmen, journalists, politicians have hurt me, inspired me. My book will tell all'
UK-based NRI businessman and patriarch of the Hinduja business clan, Srichand Hinduja, in an interview with Pritish Nandy.

Taking credit
Crisil's new chairman B V Bhargava plans to make ratings meaningful

'There's room for a small premium car in India. Ford will dominate this segment'
'History shows that as the volumes of motor vehicles grow, they create a demand for roads and infrastructure,' says Ford India's MD Philip G Spender.

More interviews