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 <<CityNews Main Send Flowers to India!

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GIACC Celebrates ‘Incredible India’ At Annual Banquet


The Georgia Indian American Chamber of Commerce (GIACC) celebrated its eighth annual banquet, ‘Incredible India’, at the ritzy Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on September 20. The highlight of the evening was some clean, laugh out loud humor by funny Indian Rajeev Satyal, and the keynote address by world renowned economist Dr. Jagdish N. Sheth.

Satyal, an Ohio based standup comedian who has repeatedly opened for Dave Chappelle, Kevin Nealon, and Russell Peters was in fine tune with the largely Indian-American audience. His jokes were self defacing and largely about desi stereotypes, and resonated well with the audience. The Q&A session with host for the evening Fox 5’s Suchita Vadlamani brought out the natural wit of the funny Indian.

Dr. Sheth, in his keynote address spoke about the transformation of India in the last 17 years, since it “achieved its second independence in 1997 (after opening its economy).”

A country that was in deficit achieved surplus in foreign exchange through exports, he said. “India has already produced 100,000 millionaires and a few billionaires also. India is becoming the largest acquirer of large corporations world wide.”

As an example, he spoke about the $5.6 billion acquisition last year in Atlanta of Novelis Inc., by Hindalco of the Aditya Birla group. He also mentioned the Tata takeover of Ford’s iconic Jaguar and Land Rover.

“It is likely that more and more acquisitions will take place as Indian corporations are now heading both in financial strengths and global aspirations,” he said. 

Dr. Sheth said India has achieved three things in the past 20 years. It has changed its image worldwide dramatically from a country of snake charmers to a country of achievers. “This is an accomplishment not only due to the software industry but because of the Indian diaspora,” he said. 

The second achievement, he said was that India has become a very self confident nation. The real power in India is the power of the people, he said. There are more entrepreneurs in one place now. 

The third change is the rise of the new middle class, or “the call center couple”, according to Dr. Sheth. The call center husband and wife are both college graduates and working; do not want to live with their parents; and do not want to buy from the neighborhood grocery store. They shop at the biz bazaars or metro markets. 

“This is a massive change in creating mass markets in India,” he said. “The biggest revolution is in the retail field. Within the next 30 to 40 years, India will become second largest market and China will be number one. In 25 to 30 years, India will equalize its economy, almost knocking the doors of China. It is expected to surpass the GDP of America. Due the large expansion of infrastructure facilities, India’s GDP will grow tremendously”

Dr. Sheth also spoke about expanding business ties between Georgia and India. The key piece in this alignment is the Savannah port, he said. Atlanta also has the advantage of having four major educational institutions. Educational institutions and infrastructure help market a city, he added. With Delta introducing a direct flight from Atlanta to Mumbai, Dr. Sheth said he hoped more and more companies would come into Atlanta. 

He said it was his biggest dream to see Atlanta grow as a global hub. 

Earlier in the evening, GIACC president Dr. Narsi Narasimhan, in his address, said it was a wonderful time to be president of the chamber. “Trade between Georgia and India is growing beyond comprehension. The GIACC wants to step up to the plate, and get ready for this growth,” he said.

GIACC president-elect Ritesh Desai also addressed the members. Students from Kruti Dance Academy performed to a medley of Bollywood and Western pop numbers, creating a synergy of the east with the west, much in keeping with the theme of the evening.

Complimentary portrait photos were taken of attendees, courtesy Vinod Devlia.

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