Making A Difference

'Excited About Our Strategic Partnership'

The US President meets with Young Entrepreneurs at Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and repeats, in his inimitable style, that USA and India are 'getting rid of the Cold War' mindset

'Excited About Our Strategic Partnership'

George Bush: Thank you for the warm welcome. You know I was a HarvardBusiness School graduate. This isn't exactly how I went to class when I wasthere, but I am honored to be here at ISB.

Yesterday I had the honor of standing on the stage with your Prime Minister,talking about a new relationship between the United States and India. I amexcited about our strategic partnership. I'm equally excited about the future ofIndia. It is in the interest of the United States to be friends with India; it'sin the interest of the United States to work for free and fair trade with India;it's in the interest of the United States that an entrepreneurial class grow inthis great country. It's in the interest of India that an entrepreneurial classgrow in this great country, so that people can realize dreams and find goodjobs.

You know, I said something really interesting, I thought interesting --otherwise, I wouldn't have said it -- the other day in a speech I gave inWashington. There are ... the middle class of India is 300 million people large.That's larger than the entire United States. And when America looks at India,America ought to look at India as a strategic partner in keeping the peace, agreat democracy which is capable of having people from different religions liveside-by-side in peace and harmony, and [it's] a wonderful opportunity to fortrade.

One of the things that you can judge a country by is the vitality of the youth,and one of the reasons I really wanted to come to ISB was because I understandit's the center of excellence in education. It's a new school that is usinginnovative techniques to give people the tools necessary to succeed.

Yesterday I met with some Indian CEOs and American CEOs, kind of the old folks.Today I'm meeting with the CEOs of tomorrow, the people that are going to helpdrive this great engine of economic prosperity for India -- for the good of theworld, is how I view it.

And so, thanks for letting me and the Ambassador come. Ambassador, thanks forsetting this up. I want to thank Chairman Gupta, a fellow Harvard BusinessSchool graduate who helped form this school. I want to thank the Dean of thisschool, as well as the professors and faculty, for being here, as well, and therest of the students -- thanks for letting me come by to say hello. I think itwould be interesting for you to tell me what's on your mind, or ask mequestions, the whole purpose of which is to help kind of foster this partnershipthat is developing on the political level so that people in my own country cansee that there's folks just like themselves here in India working to realizedreams and create opportunities.

So whoever would like to begin, we can start. And if not, I'm just going to callon somebody -- like you. 

Question: I guess I'll do the honors. Thank you for being here. I didn'tgraduate from ISB, but it seems like a great place. I graduated from CarnegieMelon, in Pittsburgh --

George Bush: That's also a good place. I will tell you something, she'sreally smart to go there. You don't go there unless you're smart. 

Question: Anyways, so I'm from the IT industry, so let me ask a questionrelating to that -- not just IT, I guess generally outsourcing. So India andChina have experienced a lot of growth because of globalization and outsourcing,in general -- IT outsourcing, in particular. And I live in the U.S. so I knowthat there is a lot of resistance in the media and also in the industry aboutoutsourcing. But as entrepreneurs and as people who believe in capitalism, wefeel that there's no other way to go but capitalism and globalization andoutsourcing, et cetera. So does the government or -- does it have a politicalstrategy on how to manage, do a balancing act?

George Bush: I appreciate it. First of all, what do you do?

Question: I have a IT consulting company.

George Bush: Okay. One of the ... the future of any country is to makesure women have got opportunity, and so I congratulate you for being a CEO. Bythe way, I've got a strong woman who travels with me in the Secretary of State. I'm not trying to avoid your question, by the way. 

People do lose jobs as a result of globalization, and it's painful for those wholose jobs. But the fundamental question is, how does a government or societyreact to that. And it's basically one of two ways. One is to say, losing jobs ispainful, therefore, let's throw up protectionist walls. And the other is to say,losing jobs is painful, so let's make sure people are educated so they can findand fill the jobs of the 21st century. And let's make sure that there'spro-growth economic policies in place. What does that mean? That means lowtaxes; it means less regulation; it means fewer lawsuits; it means wise energypolicy.

So I've taken the position -- I've taken it as recently as my State of theUnion, where I said, the United States of America will reject protectionism. Wewon't fear competition, we welcome competition, but we won't fear the future,either, because we intend to shape it through good policies.

And that's how you deal in a global economy. You don't retrench and pull back.You welcome competition and you understand globalization provides greatopportunities. And the class opportunity for our American farmers andentrepreneurs and small businesses to understand, there's a 300-million-personmarket of middle-class citizens here in India, and that if we can make a productthey want, then it becomes -- at a reasonable price -- and then all of a sudden,people will be able to have a market here. And so -- and people in Americashould, I hope, maintain their confidence about the future.

Thanks for the question. Good luck to you.

Yes, ma'am.

Question: I actually went to Wellesley College and I'm actually a studentat the ISB.

George Bush: Let me say something before you ask the question. One of themost important things for America is to make sure our universities and collegesare accessible to Indian students, because I find it really interesting thefirst two questioners have gone to school in the United States. There can besometimes perceptions about our country that simply aren't the truth, but,nevertheless, become stuck in people's minds. And one way to defeat thoseperceptions is to welcome people to the United States so you can see firsthandour good side and our bad side, and you can draw your own conclusions withoutbeing told what to think.

Sorry to interrupt.

Question: No problem. This is actually related to the point you just madeabout the market with the 300 million people. I actually run the non-profit cluband social enterprise club here at the ISB, with a lot of help from the facultyfrom the Center of Entrepreneurship and the student body. And we're a fairlyactive group who are very -- who believe in what we call compassionatecapitalism, through providing for venture capital funding for the smallbusinesses and social entrepreneurs so that they can innovate and actuallysustain themselves by providing affordable goods, and using a market-basedmodel, rather than the traditional aid-based model.

So my question to you, Mr. President, is what do you feel and how do you feelthat your government will support India in this sort of bilateral partnershipwhereby your investors can get a financial return, as well as create socialimpact in a developing country such as India?

George Bush: Well, there's two types of investments. One is privatecapital, which goes to places where people think they can get a reasonablereturn relative to risk. And government can help assuage some concerns aboutrisk by having transparency in policy, consistent law. One of the things youdon't want to do is invest in a country, and then all of a sudden, laws change,or transparency into why people make decisions, or less bureaucratic hurdles inorder to invest.

People look around at places to invest. In my country, for example, there'scompetition between the states. And if they see there's a lot of bureaucratichurdles you have to get over in order to invest in one state versus another,people tend to mitigate risk in order to maximize return.

There's also public investment, and through USAID and other aspects of our StateDepartment, we do provide micro-financing -- small loans to entrepreneurs.

Today, I went over to the Agricultural Center and saw some of the benefits ofnot only good agricultural research, but the concept of micro loans to encourageentrepreneurship, particularly amongst women in rural India. And it's aneffective program. And micro loans have worked around the world.

And so one of the things we do through our State Department, ably led bySecretary Rice, I want you to know, is to encourage micro loan financing.

Yes, sir.

Question: Yes, Mr. President. My company is based in the U.S., and wedeal mostly with electronic components, exports to India. My question is, afterthis nuclear deal, do you think the same thing will come in the electronicsfield? Like there are a lot of sanctions, export restrictions on shippingcomponents to India. That same product they can buy at -- they pay more, butthey get it from Europe where there's no export restrictions.

George Bush: We're constantly reviewing what's called the Export ControlList. And I thank you for bringing that up. And obviously, as this relationshipchanges, as a strategic partner, the folks involved with the Export Control Listwill be taking that into account.

Yesterday's energy agreement was an important agreement. It's important for theUnited States, and it's important for India. It's important for the UnitedStates because -- in that we live in a global energy market when a fast-growingcountry like India consumes more fossil fuels, it causes the price of fossilfuels to go up not only in India, but around the world, including the UnitedStates. And therefore, the extent to which we can help nations develop civiliannuclear power is in the nation's interest.

Secondly, India has been an excellent partner in nonproliferation over the pastdecades, and therefore, I can tell the American people that this is an importantagreement to help deal with the proliferation issue.

For India, it makes sense because it will enable India to be able to meetelectricity needs in a way that doesn't pollute the air. The United States andIndia and China must use technologies to do our duty to not only make sure oureconomies expand, but also to be good stewards of the environment. And nuclearenergy is a -- is a renewable source of energy in which there is zero greenhousegases.

Yesterday was a -- as I mentioned to you, in our private meeting, yesterday wasa way to put the Cold War behind us and to move forward as strategic partners.And I want to congratulate your Prime Minister and the Indian government for its-- for working with me and our government to show the world what's possible whenpeople can come together and think strategically.

Yes, sir.

Question: Mr. President, I did my MBA -- from Johnson and Wales, RhodeIsland, and I loved every bit of it. I saw your speech on the Asia Society, andI thought it was very spectacular.

George Bush: Thank you. You can leave it right there.  No, go ahead.

Question: My question is, India was never this important. Why has itbecome so important now?

George Bush: That's a really good question. I think India has always beenan important country, but the problem is, international politics made it verydifficult for previous Presidents and previous Prime Ministers to reach commonagreement. As I said, we're getting rid of the Cold War, and the truth of thematter is, the Cold War caused the world to become pretty well divided. And ifyou're on one side of the divide, it was politically difficult to work withpeople on the other side of the divide. That began to change, of course. And soI wouldn't say that India was not an important country up to now, because itwas.

(End of public portion of event. The transcript above is unedited to preservethe full flavour of the US Prisidentisms.)