Corporate India Favours George Bush
New Delhi: Who is India Inc cheering for? Bush, the known face, has
the advantage of being the incumbent. And, outside of the US and English
speaking world, if there's any country that knows Kerry as well as
his countrymen, it's probably India.
To India, he is the face of the anti-outsourcing noise in the US.
So, no points for guessing who did the local corporate heads prefer
when ET asked them to cast their votes. A cross-section of honchos
came up with a resounding thumbs up for the Republicans.
Outcome of the outsourcing debate is on the top of everyone's mind
here which gives a huge head-start to Bush. Kerry is a historically,
India-friendly Democrat but that it seems has provided little comfort.
"Bush's stand on outsourcing is well known. It provides for a win-win
situation for both corporate India and corporate America. Studies
have shown that the benefits of outsourcing accrue to both developed
and developing nations. As a matter of fact, the developed nation
accumulates nearly two-thirds of the economic benefits, while developing
nations accrue about one-third. While Kerry initially opposed outsourcing
(a stand he seems to have taken once again), we are sure that should
he become president he will have a broader understanding of the situation."
Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra told ET.
The real reason for India Inc's Dubya vote lies in Kerry's domestic
focus as opposed to Bush's more global agenda. Says P D Narang, group
director, Dabur India: "Bush has as a more global focus. He has managed,
for instance, to bring Pak president Pervez Musharraf on track and
if he comes back Indo-Pak relations will improve. Bush is also more
rational on outsourcing while Kerry's focus is too insular including
sanctions on countries that don't sign the CTBT."
Even if US elects Kerry, there is optimism here that economic considerations,
lobby groups and the famous American capitalistic might will prevail
once the rhetoric noises fade out.
Giants like GE, Microsoft and the rest have huge stakes in India which
the US government will find hard to ignore. Jagdish Khattar, MD, Maruti
Udyog articulates this saying: "John Kerry might tinker with the (H1-B
visa) quotas but the US is a competitive, open market and the advantages
of outsourcing would be brought home to him by the people concerned."
While opting for Bush, most CEOs agreed that irrespective of his political
posturing on campaign trails, the new denizen of White House will,
in his own interests, mostly maintain status quo.
"We are just looking at a pro India stance of the US government irrespective
of whether Bush or Kerry wins in the presidential elections. The main
issue nowadays is of economic nationalism and of protecting our own
turf. US is doing the same and our stance has to be on similar lines,"
said RPG Enterprises vice chairman Sanjeev Goenka.
The looming oil price threat seemed to have played on several minds.
Says Anand Mahindra, vice-chairman and MD, Mahindra & Mahindra: "As
for the oil price curve, that has as much to do with demand as with
supply. With both China and India firing on all cylinders, the energy
balance in the world has changed forever. And on the supply side if
Iraq is being viewed as a destabilising force, nothing much is likely
to change on that score because Kerry is as committed to the US engagement
in Iraq as Bush."
He further added that "politically, the Democrats will resonate better
with the Indian government while economically the Republicans resonate
better. But both Bush and Kerry are now of the view that India is
a power that cannot be ignored."
There's also quite a section of the blue-chip brigade that with the
Senate and the House of Representatives playing huge roles in decision-making
feels there's little to choose between the two candidates.
Rajat Jain, CIO of Principal MF feels that the stock markets will
be largely unaffected by the outcome of the US presidential elections
as policy-wise they are unlikely to be on different war-paths.
If Kerry wins, the BPO and IT stocks may take temporary beatings on
the bourses in the short term but that is not a big worry to the men
on Dalal St. Both are likely to back further liberalisation, said
SBI MF CIO Sethuram.
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