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Venu Srinivasan, Rajesh Hukku receive Business Week awards

M. Ramesh

Mr Venu Srinivasan, CMD, TVS Motor Company, receiving the Star of Asia award from Mr Bill Clinton, former US President, in Hong Kong on Thursday.

Hong Kong , Nov. 6

THE Former US President, Mr Bill Clinton, outlined the possibilities of business expansion through "sensible political policies" and a "radical shift" in pursuing energy options.

Mr Clinton said this at the seventh annual CEO Forum, organised here by the Business Week magazine. The two Indian businessmen, Mr Venu Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director, TVS Motor Co Ltd, and Mr Rajesh Hukku, Managing Director, iFlex, were among those who received the Business Week Stars of Asia award from Mr Clinton.

Delivering the keynote address, in which he referred to India frequently in various contexts, Mr Clinton said that market expansion in the future could come about only if political leaders adopted "sensible political and financial policies" — cessation of hostilities and addressing social issues.

He gave the examples of East Timor, where the dawn of peace had converted a war-torn country into a potential market and of Israel-Palestine conflict, which bled both countries.

Mr Clinton said that the problem of AIDS, on the one hand, threatened to bring about closure of markets and social unrest. On the other, it offered big opportunities for companies to make money by finding an affordable solution to the problem. In this context, he mentioned Ranbaxy and Cipla, which have tied up with the US companies for AIDS drug research.

The problem of climate change, Mr Clinton said, was a significant one. Admitting that the US was the "worst offender" when it came to greenhouse gas emissions, he said that countries such as China and India would grow "even faster", if only they adopted "radically different" energy policies. This essentially meant reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

"There is a one-trillion-dollar market out there," he added, calling upon the conference participants to see a business opportunity in tackling the problem of global warming.

Pointing to biotechnology (particularly, genome sequencing) and nano technology, the former President said that they could make a big difference in freeing the world of diseases. "The technologies are available, but no one is doing anything about making it marketable," he said. Diagnostic equipment based on these technologies could help early detection of deadly diseases and development of such equipment offered huge business opportunities, he added.

Mr Clinton stressed that in today's world all countries were interdependent so much so that "a sneeze in Hong Kong could result in a quarantine in Toronto". Such being the case, political leaders should adopt financial policies that maintained a balance of growth.

He said that the economic problems in the US came in the wake of the dotcom bust and 9/11. Normally, this should have resulted in the US dollar depreciating, which in turn would have made US exports more competitive. However, the US dollar did not depreciate as much as it should have, because some countries had kept their currencies undervalued. (The US has been telling China that the Chinese currency was undervalued, which is partly responsible for the $130-billion trade deficit that the US has with China.)

Mr Clinton also observed the "demographic challenges" posed by the aging population of countries such as Japan, Germany and Italy, and said that it was all the more important that global markets be expanded by sensible political and financial policies.

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