Ambassador Neelam Deo is the Former Consul General of India in New York. She has a Masters degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics and has taught in Kamala Nehru College, Delhi University. Ambassador Deo is a career diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), with over three decades in the Indian Diplomatic Corps. She has been India's Ambassador to Denmark and Ivory Coast, with concurrent accreditation to Sierra Leone, Niger & Guinea. Prior to her assignment in New York, she led the Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar Division in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, dealing with India's overall relations with these countries. Ambassador Deo has also worked in India's Diplomatic Missions in Washington DC, Bangkok and Rome. She is married to Dr. Pramod Deo, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service who is currently the Chairman of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission in Mumbai, and they have one daughter.
Question: Currently where is the most investment potential?
Neelam Deo: I would say going to the infrastructure sector. That’s our greatest need. We plan to invest, and this is a conservative estimate, 300 billion dollars in the next few years into infrastructure. This will go into roads, into airports, into the railways, into ports. And I would say to anybody going to infrastructure, because the need is there, it’s recognized, a lot of projects have already been prepared. The government is, for example, organizing mega power projects in which all the preliminary work would have been done by the government of India itself and by the state government. So as soon as you go in, you can start putting up the power plant. And we are an energy short country. We are short of a lot of power. And in order to sustain this kind of rate of growth, infrastructure is going to be the greatest challenge for us.
Question: Who are the heroes of the new Indian economy?
Neelam Deo: You know, that’s one of the most interesting phenomenon, the Indian Entrepreneurship. You have, of course, a lot of very highly recognizable names of Indian origin entrepreneurs in the United States itself. The head of PepsiCo is an Indian woman, Indra Nooyi. The head of…the new head of Citigroup, Vikram Pandit is an Indian origin person. The head of Rohm & Hass which has just been bought up as you know is an Indian origin person, Rajiv Gupta. These are examples really of Indians who have come, benefited from the fine American education and have had the opportunity but have grasped the opportunity to rise. On the Indian side, we have a number of groups which have grown tremendously. Tata is possibly the most well-known but also [IB]. The Bharat Forge Group, Baba Kalyani, Punj Lloyd. These... In fact, if you look at India and you look at the companies that are now our top 20, 15 of them didn’t exist 15 years ago or 20 years ago. So, you can see that there are a lot of new entrepreneurs. And another interesting phenomenon is that in the family owned businesses in India, we now have the second generation who is coming in to take over and run these companies. Most of them have had been to business schools in the United States or in India. And they are running their business operations more professionally than was the case earlier.