January 24, 2015

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive to join Barack Obama in trip to India

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama will land in India for a historic three-day trip, becoming the first American president to attend India's Republic Day parade in New Delhi. In the process, he will also become the first sitting US president to make two official visits to India. Aside from being the special guest on the parade on January 26, Obama is set to hold meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, help to warm diplomatic ties between two of the world's largest democracies, take part in a bilateral radio show, and even visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.

But that's not all: Obama is set to be joined by several CEOs from top US companies to India, including Vivek Ranadive, the India-born CEO of TIBCO and the majority owner of the Sacramento Kings.

This is going to be Ranadive's second trip since becoming a majority NBA owner: Ranadive came to India in early December with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and former NBA star Vlade Divac to attend events of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme and charity programmes in his former hometown, Mumbai. Ranadive has been hoping to gain another audience with Modi since the two met during Modi's trip to New York in September; in an interview with me before his last visit to India, Ranadive mentioned that he was interested in discussing future projects - such as readying an NBA ready arena for India - with the Indian prime minister.

According to Forbes, the delegation of business chiefs visiting India with President Obama include Ajay Banga of Mastercard, Dave Cote of Honeywell, Bob Iger of Disney, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Arne Sorenson of Marriott, and Ranadive.

Via Forbes.com

But the presence of the corporate captains the White House hustled to recruit for the mission indicates the economic stakes. Warming diplomatic ties between the world’s oldest democracy and its largest are encouraging American companies seeking expanded access to India’s $2 trillion economy.
Modi is pushing to make his country friendlier to foreign investment with new incentives and regulatory reforms. He unveiled a “Make in India” campaign in September aimed at promoting the country as a manufacturing haven. And the US and India are chasing a five-fold increase in bilateral trade, to $500 billion, by 2020.

It's obviously encouraging to see improving relations between India and the USA, and having top US businessmen added to the trip will add to India's growing prestige as a business and investment destination. Ranadive may be visiting in official capacity as TIBCO CEO, but of course, he'll probably use this opportunity to pitch the growth of a future relationship between India, the NBA, and the Sacramento Kings.

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