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Barack Obama's India visit signals business opportunities, says Anand Mahindra

"This visit is about a very, very high-end kind of symbolism and I am very comfortable with that and I am not looking at specific outcome," Mahindra told PTI.

twitter-logo PTI   New Delhi     Last Updated: January 26, 2015  | 12:15 IST
Mahindra Group Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra
Mahindra and Mahindra Chairman Anand Mahindra speaks during the India Economic Summit 2014 at the World Economic Forum in New Delhi on Nov 5, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Mahindra Group Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra said on Sunday that US President Barack Obama's India visit, marked by "high-end symbolism", is a signal to businessmen of both countries to look for opportunities from each other.

Likening the summit of US President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a Bollywood script of meeting of two "long lost brothers in a mela", Mahindra said it is also an acknowledgement by the US that it is time for India to emerge at the world stage.

"This visit is about a very, very high-end kind of symbolism and I am very comfortable with that and I am not looking at specific outcome," Mahindra told PTI.

He said even though the Indo-US CEO forum has been reconstituted and will be meeting again, there must certainly not be too much expectations in terms of specific outcomea on matters of business.

"I don't think you can expect any business related (matters) to be announced here. Even on the Bilateral Investment Treaty, I am not sure whether there is going to be substantial progress on that. There are impediments and (they) need to be taken forward.

"Negotiating a treaty is a very, very detailed matter, very detailed clauses have to be looked at, multiple interests are involved. So it would be wrong to create unnecessary pressure on an outcome," the chairman said.

Stating that all "hype is more than justified" in terms of symbolism of the visit and what lies in it in terms of the future of the Indo-US relationship, Mahindra said, "If the two leaders of our countries show a natural alliance, then it is a signal to businessmen on both sides to look for opportunities with each other."

FULL COVERAGE:Barack Obama's India visit 2015

He further added, "Let us also not forget that America is the biggest source of investible capital in the world today.

If India has any chance of meeting its growth target, specially for infrastructure, and for defence, renewable energy and nuclear power, then the combination of American capital and technology is going to be completely essential for this growth."

Underlining the convergence in the thinking of Modi and Obama, Mahindra said, "President Obama believes this is the right time for India to emerge at the world stage and become a much stronger partner in helping to resolve some of world's deep problems."

The country must be on the table when it comes to discussing crises in the world and their solutions. Whether they are crises of conflict, whether they are crises of climate change, whether they are crises of trade, he added.

"What President Obama is signalling is that India belongs at that table and what is even more important is that we have finally a Prime Minister, who believes that it is India's duty and right to be at that table where he believes very strongly that India must come up to the forefront and play a role as a global player."

"... Not simply in the old format of being a non-aligned being out of the... that India needs to be seen and visible whenever there are major global issues to be discussed," Mahindra said.

On the tricky issues related to business between the two countries, such as intellectual property rights, he said there has to be "a little give and take on both sides", particularly in the pharmaceuticals sector.

"We are already TRIPS compliant. What the US wants is a TRIP plus regime, that's something to be talked about. I think there, the US government has to begin looking this as an opportunity not to restrict India pharma companies and to allow the western and American companies to have a full reign but to look at this as an opportunity to ally with a country that has the capability to bring low cost medicines to the world," he said.

On the domestic side, Mahindra said, "India needs to demonstrate a little bit more that we are very serious about protecting IPR and to act against piracy.

"If we are able to show much more progress on our own trade secrets protection and in the regime that we have to protect it, that's what India needs to do to take it one step forward."

Mahindra said the world's perception towards thr country has changed after Modi came to power. "There is a kind of Sangam that is happening now. The world's perception is that India has a strong, cohesive and coherent leadership and that it is doing the right thing and undertaking the right reforms to make us, what people believe will be the fastest growing large economy in a few years from now.

"As China's growth rate comes down, if India is able to accelerate its growth rate then there is a strong likelihood that we will be the fastest growing large economy in the world. That perception combined with the perception of coherent and strong leadership is what has changed."

Highlighting the significance of good strong relationship with US for India's own economic growth, Mahindra said, "The US still remains the most innovative economy, the world's largest economy and therefore if India has any desire to grow, it cannot avoid America.

It cannot hide from the fact that you need to have a very healthy relationship with the world's largest economy and that is good for your own health."

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