Oct 30, 2007

Fortune Global Forum is on in New Delhi now

Received a mail from Rachelle Lacroix who sent me a Q&A with Fortune International Editor Robert Friedman about the The FORTUNE Global Forum 2007.

Friedman says about the choice of holding the Forum in New Delhi:

India was an obvious choice not only because many Indian companies are beginning to compete on the global stage but also because India's economy is finally opening up enough to attract multinational companies into the country to market products, engage in R&D, and take advantage of India's high-tech manufacturing sector.

Q. The theme of the 2007 Forum is "Mastering the Global Economy." Why was this theme selected?

Friedman: It serves the needs of both Indian companies learning how to compete globally and multinational companies learning how to do business in India. And what could be a better topic for all the "masters of the universe" who will be in attendance?

Q. In one Forum session, New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman will interview U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson about U.S. perspectives on the global economy. Can you provide any insight on why these thought leaders were paired? Also, what questions would you most want to hear answered by Secretary Paulson?

Friedman: It was a great accomplishment to get Hank Paulson to come to India on what will be his first visit as U.S. Treasury Secretary. As a former Goldman Sachs CEO and now the top economic official in Washington, Paulson brings with him a wealth of knowledge about the global economy.

As the foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times and author of the best-selling book The World is Flat, Tom Friedman brings with him a broad knowledge of India's role in the outsourcing revolution that has helped reshape the global economy. Who will flatten whom in this encounter? Should make for a most intelligent conversation--and is likely to be one of the highlights of the conference.

Q. Many of India's top leaders will be attending the Forum, including Honorable Minister for Commerce and Industry, Kamal Nath. Can you explain how these leaders will be integrated into the Forum program and what value their participation will provide to the chief executives in attendance?

Friedman: Finance Minister Chidambaram, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, Planning Commission Chairman Montek Ahluwalia, and other Indian officials will be spending considerable time at the conference in private meetings and mingling with delegates. This is one of the special things that the Global Forum offers to its guests: intimate contact with the decision-makers in the host country. And, speaking of hosts, Minister Nath will be hosting one of a dozen private home dinners at his residence in Delhi for a small group of FORTUNE Global Forum delegates.

Q. What sessions most interest you at the 2007 Forum?

Friedman: I'm looking forward to hearing many of the great speakers we have lined up, from Michael Dell and John Chambers to Nandan Nilekani. And, of course, to my own panels.

Q. Two FORTUNE Editors will be blogging live from the Forum: FORTUNE Asia Editor Clay Chandler on his Chasing the Dragon blog and South Asia Contributor John Elliott on his Riding the Elephant blog. For those who can't attend the Forum in person, are the blogs the best way for them to follow the action?

Friedman: Not only are Clay Chandler and John Elliott blogging, but all of the FORTUNE writers and editors attending the Forum in New Delhi--16 in all--will be contributing to the official Global Forum blog at http://globalforum.blogs.fortune.cnn.com. In addition, you can view video from select business sessions at http://money.cnn.com/video/globalforum. So, yes, if you can't be there, this is the best way to pretend you were.

Q. Lastly, what do you think will be the most valuable takeaways for participants after attending the 2007 program?

Friedman: I hope folks get out of the hotel and explore New Delhi. It's a memorable city. But even if they don't, they'll definitely get a taste of India. It's a chaotic, democratic, sometimes frustrating jumble of people and ideas--just like our program. It's a nation of contrasts and contradictions poised for economic takeoff. Who said elephants can't fly?

Interestingly an article on CNN describes India's challenge: Raising living standards for the masses and on a day when the BSE Sensex crossed the 20,000 mark and yet 27,000 landless farmers and displaced tribals people marched to India's capital to press for Land Reforms.

If the Forum comes out with concrete operational ideas for India to reduce the gap between India and Bharat, without breaking the law and increase the country's competitiveness and Human Development Index, I think it will be a great step forward.

The Forum would also be interesting for Indian bloggers as Rashmi Bansal
along with Barkha Dutt, will moderate a panel discussion titled 'Our India: Reflections of Rising Stars' and is part of a Roundtable on India: Snapshots of an Evolving Culture.

And great initiative by Fortune to get their writers and editors blogging about the Forum. Now if only we saw Indian conferences incorporate the initiative :-) !