The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bell goes off on India fever

Washington, Feb. 27: Shortly after finance minister P. Chidambaram presents his budget on Monday, ripples of his proposals will be felt in the world's financial capital of New York.

On Monday, an Indian American entrepreneur from Michigan, Raj Vattikuti, has been invited by Nasdaq stock market to ring the opening bell for the day's trading.

The stage for what promises to develop into a mild India fever in the months ahead has already been set in the US this weekend with Wipro's chairman, Azim Premji, ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday to mark the close of trading.

There are high expectations in the US not only from the budget, but also from the UPA government's economic policies, fuelled by predictions by several American think tanks and intelligence and strategic researchers in recent weeks about India's potential.

Some of these predictions have held out the possibility that India may overtake China in growth in coming years, becoming one of the major engines of economic change in the world.

Because of these expectations, Chidambaram's visit to Washington in April for meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be keenly awaited here and promises to be more than a routine event.

From available indications, India will continue to be America's flavour throughout the year.

In June, the US-India Business Council (USIBC) will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its founding and is planning a major event to mark the occasion. Rajat Gupta, senior partner of McKinsey and Company, is the current chairman of USIBC, an organisation comprising 125 top American companies investing in India and the brainchild of Henry Kissinger, when he was secretary of state.

The Indian and US governments are also currently negotiating a possible bilateral visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington or a visit by President George W. Bush to New Delhi this year or both.

A Bush visit will be attended by a lot of fanfare and will raise India's profile here.

Premji was invited to ring the closing bell at NYSE yesterday to coincide with a visit to the stock exchange by WIPRO executives.

Wipro has attracted attention here because of its $1.7 billion revenue and its place as the fourth largest information technology services company in the world based on market capitalisation.

Vattikuti is being honoured by Nasdaq on Monday with an invitation to ring in the start of trading to mark the 20th anniversary of the global consulting and technology services company specialising, among other things, in strategic outsourcing, which he founded in 1985. Nasdaq is also in the run up to its eight anniversary.

Vattikuti, a graduate of Guindy Engineering College in India, founded his company, Complete Business Solutions Inc. in Michigan. It has been listed on Nasdaq since March 1997. The company later changed its name to Covansys Corporation.

With over 5,500 employees worldwide, Covansys was one of the first American information technology services companies to establish offshore facilities in India.

It now runs three wholly owned development centres in India.

The invitation to Vattikuti by Nasdaq is seen here as yet another indication that outsourcing has come to stay and is gaining political correctness after an American election year when the idea caused considerable turbulence.

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