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"Our people would like to have knowledge on mergers and acquisitions because we will need this to be global players. We are just beginning a stage where our entrepreneurial spirit is being manifested," said Ranendra Sen, ambassador of India to the U.S

India's ambassador addresses Kellogg students

Ranendra Sen visits Kellogg, highlighting benefits of the dynamic relations between India-U.S., and sharing his concerns for India's future

By Romi Herron

12/3/2006 - The relationship between India and the U.S. is similar to the experience of walking into a room and finding more doors to enter, illuminated by windows with even more opportunities to consider, said His Excellency Ranendra Sen, ambassador of India to the U.S., during his Nov. 30 visit to the Kellogg School of Management. Said Dean Dipak C. Jain in his introduction of Sen, who is also past high commissioner of India: "The Kellogg School is honored to welcome the ambassador, who has been involved in some of the most important negotiations in some of the most important summits in the world."

In his dialogue with more than 50 Kellogg School faculty, students and staff, Sen referred to his prior role, as ambassador in Moscow from 1992-1998, as his most challenging diplomatic tenure, coming as it did on the heels of the Cold War. Sen also offered his perspective on the benefits of the India-U.S. relationship, as well as concerns facing India and the initiatives underway to address them.

"The relationship between India and the U.S. is changing very rapidly, yet most people are not aware of it," he said. "Perceptions are lagging behind, so there is a gap. This is, comparatively speaking, a recent development."

As an example, telecom privatization began in Germany and India at approximately the same time, said Sen. "India is not a state-run economy. Yet, frankly, we have progressed much faster. Perceptions affect investments."

Of note, five U.S. companies in the IT sector have made investments of $13 billion in India, and an Indian company has invested $1.1 billion in a U.S. company, Sen said, adding that he strives to promote U.S. exports to India and anticipates that trade between the U.S. and India will double every three or four years. Last year, the fastest growth of any exports from the U.S. was in exports to India, at a rate of 30 percent, said the ambassador.

He indicated that India also is focusing on developing its biotechnology, nanotechnology and defense, as well as promoting research and development in industrial applications. It has started the latter efforts with an initial contribution of $30 million. In addition, $100 million has been dedicated to improving agricultural efficiency, Sen said.

Top concerns for India, according to Sen, are security, HIV/AIDS, energy and education. "International terrorism affects not just a few countries but is a phenomenon that must be handled globally." Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is another priority India shares with the U.S., he added.

"India has a vital stake in the prosperity of its neighboring countries and any fallout from global terrorism could be devastating for India," Sen said.

In response to Amit Bouri '07, who asked how global security affects the India - U.S. trade industry, Sen replied: "India is not just a land power. It is also the Indian Ocean. We also have a security initiative for emergent situations."

HIV/AIDS affects India's economy, development and national security, Sen noted. India and the U.S. have corporate initiatives to address this challenge, including India's production of 80 percent of all generic drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS.

CEO forums unite executives from various sectors who then compile advisory reports to influence social policy in India, Sen said.

Energy demand is another growing challenge for India, which currently exports about 70 percent of its oil, said the ambassador.

"In the future we will have to, out of necessity, look at non-fossil fuels including nuclear. Energy shortage and water scarcity are linked and are the two biggest constraints facing India."

Improved education is also a dire need, he said.

"Our people would like to have knowledge on mergers and acquisitions because we will need this to be global players. We are just beginning a stage where our entrepreneurial spirit is being manifested," said Sen. "Unless we create institutions in India that match the creativity offered in the U.S., students will continue to leave India because they are connected [globally] with each other now."

At the conclusion of the ambassador's visit, Dean Jain encouraged the audience to attend the India Business Conference, which Kellogg will host in March, and invited Sen to return as a participant in that annual event.