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Summary of Harvard India Conference 2011

March 28, 2011 Leave a comment

If you are an “India Watcher” then my comments and observations might be useful. Of course this is just one man’s perspective and blogs are not worth a byte if one is not opinionated. Please take it for what its worth on my impressions of this wonderfully packaged and executed event by HBS and Kennedy School students.

  1. Political Situation – Not much has changed. The speakers often used words like “the corruption levels are scary”. On a positive note, solid growth and the efficiency of service industry suggests that one should just “live with this fact”
  2. Where is the Growth? – Health Care and Financial Services sector will see healthy growth. By the way, services sector is where the action is. Manufacturing is going to be a challenge because of (still) poor infrastructure development.
  3. The Energy Situation – 24% electricity is stolen! Capacity is growing at 6% p.a. In other words, the notion that there is shortage is over hyped. Interesting conflict of view between investors and industry pundits on the subject of renewable energy. Government and small scale sector (PPP) sees a great future in solar (not wind) but the investors seem to think that coal and nuclear can deliver energy needs much cheaper, despite all other factors.
  4. Investment in India – Private Equity and Hedge funds are very active in India. There are between 200 and 300 PE/Hedge funds operating in India already! Buyouts are not the best strategy is what I heard but I am personally not convinced. Most funds are finding their way into publicly traded equity. Majority of the LPs are from out of India – so confidence is still high.
  5. Talent Supply – Education and vocational training is badly needed – whether it is a good business opportunity is questionable as it may not be a viable commercially. That would explain why not many are rushing in. Exception is primary education. The discussion on Management Education in India was dull and non-thought provoking – perhaps because the panel did not include anyone from the industry. Several (other) panelists agreed that there is a huge gap in academia and the industry still.
  6. Perceptions of India – A 300 million strong economically emerging middle class is high on the list for global consumer giants but for average person, India continues evoke the image of an “outsourcing destination”. Dan Tanebaum who now lives and works in India gives the following advice to westerners who want to work in India. “Get on a plane and go”. Its simply not possible to get jobs from here. Folks who do not even reply to your emails are just as likely to hire you if you “simply drop in”.

Guaranteed growth, an ineffective but stable government, a rock solid democracy and a “billion entrepreneurs*” – where else would you invest?

* “March of a Billion Entrepreneurs was the conference theme”

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Harvard India Conference this weekend!

March 25, 2011 Leave a comment

In these lean times we are all making hard decisions where to spend our money and time. There is an abundance of networking events and conferences and its hard to make a judgment. To do my share of “honest” review I can say that judging by last years event, this one is worth going to.

Attendance make sense of course if India happens to be somehow relevant to your business success. In other words anyone who is an investor or doing business with India, a person of Indian origin or simply someone who likes to follow India.

Last year’s event was well planned and the individual break out sessions were charged with emotional discussions. There was never a dull moment. Judging by the agenda and the line up of speakers and  panelists, I am pretty sure we are going to get a repeat performance. The lunch box from Taj Boston should be definitely be an improvement, if there is at all an area of improvement I could have suggested. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a Chiken Tikka Sandwich!

I know this is a last minute thing here and weekends are precious for most of us to compromise. This one is well worth it if you can manage to go. The conference starts tomorrow at 2.30pm and is scheduled to continue all day on Sunday. Here is a link to the website.

They have even setup google moderator to collate attendee questions in advance. Its even better than eVite – we will know what guests will be talking about!

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March 8, 2011 Leave a comment

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