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CII delegation visits Chicago and Detroit

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Chicago: A Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) delegation, which was on a tour of the US from November 18 to November 23, visited Chicago and Detroit, the two US Midwest cities,  after completing visiting to Houston.  The delegation comprising  the Chairman and CEOs and directors of prominent business houses in India, was  a part of the Prime Minister, Dr..Manmohan Singh’s  state visit to the USA.

The 19-member delegation was in Chicago on November 19. The delegation was  led by Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of CII,  and Naushad  Forbes, Chairman, CII Western Region, and Director of Forbes Marshall Pvt., Ltd. Mumbai. 

CII,  founded over 114 years ago, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organization. It is India’s premier business association, with a direct membership of over 7,800 organization from private and public sectors and an indirect membership of over 90,000 companies.  It has 64 offices in India and nine overseas offices, one of which is in Washington DC.

The Chicago Council of Global Affairs (CCGA), in consultation with the Consulate, coordinated the program for the CII delegation in Chicago, which was held at Intercontinental  Hotel.  CCGA organized an interaction with the US industrialists and businessmen based in Chicago and Illinois.  Marshal Bouton, president of CCGA, welcoming  the CII delegates, US industrialist  and businessmen, and thanked the Consul General and  CII for having chosen Chicago as one of its destinations amongst the four cities they planned to visit in the US. He recalled the strong presence of some of the prominent  Indian companies in Chicago.  He indicated that there was still a great potential  for the business relations to increase further and the need to tap the synergy of the industries of these two countries.

Ashok Kumar Attri, Consul General,  mentioned about the increasing Indo-US bilateral trade volumes over the last three years and drew the attention of the delegation about the strong industrial and agricultural base of the US Midwest states.  He said that the full potential of  the US Midwest has not been tapped by the Indian companies so far, although there was some progress in the recent years.  He mentioned about the US Midwest states being not only the heartland of more than 100 Fortune 500 companies  but also being the agricultural bowl of the US. In this context he advised the  Indian industries to collaborate  with the food processing industry of the  Midwest,  joint venture with  Midwest companies  who specialized in handling agricultural products especially   the cold  chain distribution  technology.

Chandrajit Banerjee gave a broad profile of the accompanying delegation and mentioned about the growth trajectory of the Indian industry despite the economic downturn in other parts of the world.

Sam Pitroda, in his keynote address —  “A Vision for Innovation”  —highlighted the need for innovation  amongst industrialists that would  address the various pressing social issues and to adopt an Indian model for development. He urged the Indian companies to re-orient themselves and suggested to the US companies to look into a different model of development. In this context he mentioned about the areas of higher education and skill development  that the US and Indian companies can collaborate.

The second session, “Opportunities for Collabora-tion”  was  split into three segments — (i) Business Partnership and the discussions were led by Quraish Baldiwala, of Nutrition International, Abbot, and  B. Nataraj, CEO of Matrix Metals, India; (ii) Manufa-cturing by Mark Stasell, Vice President, Strategy and Business Planning, Global Truck operations, Navistar and V. Parthasarathy, Executive Vice President  of Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate IT, Mahindra & Mahindra;  and (iii) Green Energy Design led by  Gregg Garmisa, Founder and President, Chicago Design matters,a nd Dr. Naushad Forbes, Director, Forbes Marshall. This session was moderated by Dr. Rajinder Gupta, Execu-tive Director, The CEO Perspective Program, Kellog School of Management, Northwestern University.

The session concluded with Dr.  Raghuram Rajan, Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago and Chair, Advisory Committee to the Government of India, Planning Commi-ssion,  addressing  the gathering  on “An outlook on the Global Economy.”

The delegation participated in a luncheon meeting  hosted by  the Executive Club of Chicago attended by over 600 guests.  The keynote speaker for the luncheon meeting was   George Buckley, Chairman, President and CEO of 3M Company. The Executive Club  formally introduced Sam Pitroda, Special Adviser to the  Prime Minister,  and congratulated him on his new assignment,  Ashok Kumar Attri,  Consal General and  Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of CII.

The delegation reached  Detroit, Michigan, on    November 20, another important city in the Midwest,  in the next leg of the visit.

The Detroit Chambers of Commerce (DCC)  organized  a roundtable discussion with the Detroit-based US companies numbering  30.  The business meeting at Detroit was led by Richard E. Blouse, President and CEO, DCC.  Detroit Chambers, had been having  regular  annual  interaction with the Indian industries in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai over the last five years. The next sixth trip to India is scheduled for January-February 2010. DCC organized one-to-one meetings between Indian delegation and Detroit-based  industry representative. About 30 US industries and business representatives attended the function and the Indian companies had a one-to-one interaction with the US business.  M. Therese Thill  of Michigan Economic Development Cor-poration welcomed the Indian companies to set up their plants in Michigan.   

The delegation left for Washington   on November  21.