A review of the Business India Forum – by Arunava Chaudhuri

July 27, 2010

This years Business India Forum was held on July 22, 2010 and the event once more organised by Celebrasian UK was held this year in London at Christie’s. A lovely small, niche auditorium amongst all those works of art from around the world.
The mix of topics this year was once more quite interesting with sports business meeting luxury and lifestyle in an Indian context, something with the exception of IPL isn’t really the case for India just yet. So something which is set to become more and more real for India in the coming years.

It was a half day forum with over 100 delegates attending. The opening session had the title “Overview of the Indian economy and three sectors”. Ridhika Batra, Director – Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, UK; was in the chair with Vijay Goel, Indo-EU Business Forum; Deepak Lalwani, Astaire Securities; and Farid Haque, Global Markets, Accenture as panellists and they all gave their views on how business could and should be done in India plus where the opportunities and possible problems lie. This set to tone for the rest of the afternoon.

The second session had the topic “The Business of Sports” with myself as the moderator with the focus mainly on cricket and football. My panel included Ishan Saksena, Chairman, Queen’s Park Rangers FC; Ashish Ray, Author and journalist; Kevin Roberts, Editorial Director, Sport Business Group; Anders Grundberg, Partner, McGuire Woods; and Clive W. Leach, Chairman, Durham County Cricket Club.

I started off giving a general overview on the Indian sporting field with the IPL the often mentioned example of commercialisation of sports in India, but I also gave the audience the information that football is a fast growing sport in India with the question to be asked on how and where can cricket grow further. My aim was to give an overview not only of cricket and football, which still where the main focus. My seasoned colleague Ashish took the discussions to another level as he is a cricket purist and was more interested in Test cricket, while most of the world was interested in 50 Overs and T20. An interesting discussion developed as India has clearly shown that Test cricket is of no real interest for the general public these days, while T20 is the new craze through the IPL; while in England Test cricket still has its place of its own. An interesting comparison was made as a strong league doesn’t automatically mean a strong national side. England and the EPL in football were compared to India and its IPL in cricket. And yes, it scarily sounded correct as both national sides have failed in recent major competition.

We also focused in the session on the main topic of business of sports in India. There are numerous opportunities not only in cricket and football with the example of the 30 year deal signed by IMG-Reliance with the Basketball Federation of India recently made, but there are also chances in Formula 1 and Golf.

After a tea break “Session Three – The Burgeoning Luxury and Lifestyle Markets” was held with Amin Jaffer, Director Indian Art, Christies; in the chair. The panel included Fiona Sanderson, Managing Director, The Luxury Channel; Onita Prasada Vashish, Owner, Onitaa Fashion; and Kevin Rego, International Head of Sales and Marketing, B4U TV.

The fourth and final session was on “Doing business in India”. It had Carl Nisser, Board member, Europe India Chamber of Commerce Counsel & McGuire Woods; as the moderator. The panel included Atul Gupta, Director, Euro Max Capital; and Parvinder Bhatia, Wasserman Media Group – India. They talked about the does and don’t in the Indian market. One thing that came out clear of this session was anyone interested to do business in India needs to know and then also understand how to do it in India. And that is the difficulty for international business across all fields as even multinationals have failed in India.

By Arunava Chaudhuri