Punit Goenka, Tulsi Gabbard keynote speakers at Wharton India Economic Forum

Meet will be held February 20-21 at Univ. of Penn.

By Raif Karerat

WASHINGTON, DC: The 19th annual Wharton India Economic Forum, a student-run conference focusing on Indian business, will be held February 20 to 21, at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Since its inception, the assembly has provided a platform for industry leaders, politicians, academics, and students to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing India as the nation evolves in the face of a rapidly shifting global dynamic.

Several keynote speakers have been confirmed for the 2015 WIEF, including Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (U.S. House of Representatives), Punit Goenka (Managing Director and CEO, Zee Entertainment), Anu Madgavkar (Senior Fellow, McKinsey Global Institute), and Hital R. Meswani (Executive Director, Reliance Industries Limited).

The speakers will deliver their keynotes in between panels featuring a further slew of authorities on Indian business, including executives from Twitter and Microsoft as well as The Economist’s New York Bureau Chief.

The first panel, “India: Delivering the Dream,” will delve into the trends — both domestic and international — currently shaping the Indian dream for a more prosperous tomorrow. The panel will directly address the question of whether India is even capable of uniting under a collective dream considering how varied economic, cultural, and demographical aspirations are on the subcontinent.

Panel two, “Finance: Investing in India,” will seek to identify which sectors will continue to burgeon the Indian GDP while providing a theorized preview of India’s fiscal budget. It will also look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” program, which was recently touted at a Washington D.C. event hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Indian Embassy.

The third panel is called “Consumer: Understanding the Indian Consumer,” and will ask important questions about the modern Indian customer. How do companies address such a large market that is so economically, culturally and demographically diverse? What are the political, bureaucratic and logistical challenges that companies face in reaching the Indian consumer?

The fourth and final panel, simply titled “Entrepreneurship,” will examine whether outdated regulations and boundless red tape will continue to impede the growth of startups in India.

In addition to its impressive roster of speakers, the WIEF is also hosting a startup competition for the second year running, which awards cash prizes worth up to $10,000 for the best business model submissions involving the Indian market or Indian products targeting the U.S. market.

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