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The world needs India: Bush

By George Iype in Hyderabad
March 03, 2006 19:01 IST
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He admires Indian entrepreneurs. He praises professors for teaching young Indians to take risks. And he says it is in the interest of both the United States and India that the entrepreneurial class grows in India.

US President George Bush was at his best talking entrepreneurship with a group of students, entrepreneurs and professors at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad on Friday.

"It's hard to teach people to be risk takers, and you have professors here who give you the tools to be risk takers," Bush told the ISB gathering.

President Bush, who praised the Entrepreneurship Centre at the ISB, said: "The world needs India. And it is in the interest of both the US and India that the entrepreneurial class grows in India."

"I am honoured to be at the ISB," he said as he addressed to a group of entrepreneurs in a roundtable at the Atrium of the ISB's Academic Building around 12.30 pm.

He spent a little over an hour interacting with the entrepreneurs in a characteristically relaxed and affable manner that charmed the ISB community gathered to witness the occasion.

Complementing the ISB on its Centres of Excellence in education, President Bush said that it was a new school using innovative tools to succeed.

The President referred to the nuclear agreement reached on Thursday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and said that he was quite "excited about the strategic partnership between the US and India."

He spoke about the need of alternative sources of energy for the country's growing needs, which could come from safe civilian nuclear facilities. "When India's economy grows at 8%, you consume a lot of energy. So, it is in global interest that we are concerned about the consumption of that energy," he said.

He revealed that he had discussed alternative sources of energy with President Abdul Kalam -- who he thought was 'a good guy' -- the previous day. The discussion centered on the use of bio-mass and ethanol for energy needs in India. He quoted the example of Brazil's use of ethanol in almost 80% of its cars manufactured by General Motors.

On the question of free trade, the President said, "We are working towards a free trade agreement, but it is important to get the Doha Round done." With regard to protectionism policy, his comments were, "If you look at the history of the world, protectionism policy leads to recession, and sometimes depression."

He complimented India's diversity, saying, "India is a great example of democracy. It is very devout, has diverse religious heads, but everyone is comfortable about their religion. The world needs India," he said.

President Bush also had words of praise about Indian education. "Indian schools are doing a good job educating their students in the sciences and math -- the subjects of the 21st century," he said.

On the eagerly awaited question of opening a consulate in Hyderabad, the President said "Yes, you have got a deal." He then turned around to look at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was seated to his right, and said, "Now it's up to the Secretary of State to fund it!"

He said that having grown up in western Texas, he never thought that they would ever be threatened, but his perceptions about being threatened changed after the September 11 episode. "This had a bearing on visa restrictions to the US, though I know that this has affected Indians."

"We don't bear grudges. We actually welcome people, and we want you to know that the US is a great country to be in," he said.

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