Newbie and the Indian Budget
It is not very often that one gets to attend a high-profile event on his or her very first day of work. I got that unique opportunity right on my very first day at Rice. I attended ‘The 2012-13 India Budget and Prospects for the Indian Economy’ together with Donna, my Account Director. It was an informative and an interesting session. One of the panelists was Vikram Khanna, the Associate Editor of The Business Times who gave interesting snippets of comparing cricket and the Indian economy which held the audience’s interest. His insight on the budget was something that can be understood by laymen too. Dr Rajiv Kumar, a prominent economist and Director-General of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) was another interesting personality. Due to time constraints, he literally had to speed through the budget while ensuring we got a proper overview of what to expect in the budget. It was good to see both gentlemen trying to put forth an informative discussion of the budget and field the questions from the audience in a clear and concise manner.
The general view that prevailed amongst the audience was that the budget was quite regressive with no real headway made in many sectors. However, as what Vikram mentioned in the budget, which one of his mentors referred to as the ‘bullock-cart budget’, we would get there in the end.
The Q&A session was an interesting one which saw many tense moments. Many people coming to the mike stand to ask questions. I got a first-hand experience of Indians not being mike-shy and ever ready to take the stand to engage in intellectual rigor. Many people were rushing to ask questions about the budget, how open it is to private business as well as the lost opportunities to carry out much-needed reforms. Some questions revolved around the immigration issues that plague non-resident Indians and how infrastructure seems to be the downfall of India.
It was a heated albeit an interesting exchange. Everyone relayed their concerns and what could have been carried out. Vikram gave an interesting viewpoint of engaging China’s help in solving India’s infrastructure woes since China is well-versed in dealing with infrastructure. Indeed, there is a huge potential for Chinese companies to tap into the Indian construction sector and enhance the infrastructural landscape.
The event also provided us a great opportunity to network with the Indian business community and business media in Singapore. Industry bigwigs from various sectors attended the event and we had the chance to hear firsthand of their views on the event as well as what they do in their line of work. We also met Malminderjit Singh, a Business Times correspondent. Malminder shared with us the latest business news scoops which enabled us to have an idea of how we can tailor the pitches to be sent to the business media and figure out the type of news angle to craft. It was definitely an interesting meeting and we were glad we attended the event as it enabled us to meet certain members of the media face-to-face as well as have a feel of the Indian business landscape.
On the whole, the general viewpoint is India is opening up and there is a goldmine of opportunity in various sectors. I also felt that more can be discussed on what can be done on the media front. No doubt, it is a talk on the budget. Nevertheless, investment in the communications field is something that could have put forth an interesting discussion in another direction.
India has always had a vibrant culture for learning with a pulsating media landscape and the penchant for news is huge amongst the average Indian. This is something that PR companies in the Southeast Asian region should take note. We should seek to engage Indian businesses and aim to be part of the media process which can be a benefit for everyone involved. After all, there can be no budget without any businesses and the profits which will go towards the taxes for the government.