I am not a big fan of “CEO Forums” as an instrument of diplomacy or trade. Most of them are a formality, many attendees are pressured to be there and there is no natural energy. Good business arises when there is natural energy.
But the report “An India Economic Strategy to 2035” clearly loves them, and it called for a new CEO Forum and several other top level meetings to be created.
I could not see anywhere in the report where it actually asked if India wants these forums.
Nor could I see much in the track record of the Business Council of Australia (which the report nominates as the organiser of the forum) to suggest they have a deep interest in India at all.
What is the alternative?
Some of my best networking and business experiences in India have happened when I have attended a local Indian event – run by CII, FICCI, various universities and some city chambers of commerce.
In a collective culture such as India, going to a locally run event is your invitation into the collective, you can see first hand how it operates and find your own place. Indians love you turning up and appreciate the respect it shows. Networking becomes dynamic and business doors open to you.
Much better than a formal, imposed Australian CEO Forum idea.
This cultural point is central to my views – an Australian-created CEO Forum occurs “outside of the Indian collective” and although they will turn up, you are missing a key opportunity to be accepted into that collective – which of course is when you really do business.
Where a forum is a natural consequence of a growing trade relationship, then I am all for it – but creating one when there is no natural base for it could be a waste of time.