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Brand India should include the non-urban: Sibal

NEW DELHI: When a lawyer-turned-politician and a successful medical professional hold forth on marketing, branding and packaging tourism, a different perspective come forth, apart from some populist talks, of course.

And, on the first day of the two-day marketing summit being held here by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), this became apparent. A junior Indian minister hyped up the non-urban markets for making marketing strategies a success, while a senior heart surgeon held forth on medical tourism, which can be exploited by the country.

Marketing in India cannot be successful unless it includes the vast majority of the people living outside the urban section of the populace, minister of state for science and technology Kapil Sibal said in his inaugural speech at the marketing summit.

Defining marketing, Sibal, a lawyer by training, said that for him it meant products and services that are saleable, affordable and of high quality. “Prosperity of a nation depends on the prosperity of its people and the extent of the market depends on the affordability of its products,” he added.

He asserted that India would be the world leader in the market by the year 2015, mainly due to its strength in science and technology. Similarly, the minister felt that India could become a world leader in the pharma sector because labour was available in India at a cheaper cost compared to the West.

Referring to inventions that were being done by ordinary people all over the country, Sibal said that for him marketing meant providing simple solutions to the problems of the people at affordable prices. “India

cannot go forward by ignoring the people at the bottom of the pyramid,” he held on to his political line.

On the other hand, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre ED Dr. Naresh Trehan emphasized that India can very well take advantage of medical tourism, but for that to happen in a big way, the Indian government needs to beef up the infrastructure and its marketing abilities.

“High quality treatment at a fraction of the cost, in comparison to western countries, makes India an ideal healthcare destination from highly specialized medical care”, Dr Trehan said, but added this cannot become a reality without a helping hand from the government.

Speaking at a session on `Marketing Crystal Gazing 2015: Are you a part of the future’, Dr Trehan’s speech to the marketing delegates took a dual look at the state of healthcare in India and also discussed India’s

potential to be a leading destination in the medical tourism business.

Quoting from an international report, Dr. Trehan said that despite the growth in medical and health infrastructure in recent years, India needs to spend in excess of $25-30 billion by 2012 to raise the infrastructure required in healthcare for the domestic populous.

According to Dr. Trehan’s estimates 100,000 medical tourists are likely to visit India annually by 2012, which would generate revenues of approximately $2 billion up from the current $333 million.

“Although this is substantial income for India, it represents a dramatic cost savings for the US, European and other foreign nationals who have to pay about five to ten times of what they pay in India for the same

treatment.

But for such a scenario to become a reality, the government has to have the political will and resources.

“Strengthening of infrastructure at airports, roads and hotels, provisions for medical visas on arrival, priority bookings and reservations on Indian air carriers and allowing private hospital facilities on the airport tarmac are key factors that the government needs to develop.

"Additionally, the government must take the lead in marketing Indian medicine internationally and help attracting the medical tourists,” Dr. Trehan gave his version of marketing strategies.

Dr. Trehan also shared his vision and concept for the new MediCity project, which will cover over 18 super specialty hospitals and the first phase will be inaugurated on India’s 60th birthday.

However, Dr. Trehan warned that since no national standards of excellence exist for healthcare, it could become an issue.

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