Set for new challenges

Updated: Oct 30 2005, 06:38am hrs
The president of Cosmos Group of companies, Anil K Agarwal, is gearing up to face new challenges as the president of Assocham. The problems confronting the farm sector are foremost in his mind.

Agriculture is one of the sectors that I will focus on. I would like to set up agro-food processing industrial parks all over India, he says. To give a boost to the farming sector, Assocham is setting up these parks in collaboration with the European Union.

The first agri-processing industrial park to be set up in collaboration with Italy will be spread over 100 acres and involve an investment of over $100 million.

We want to set up over 25 agri-processing industrial parks with one park in each state, which will empower farmers and strengthen the rural economy, he explains.

Being the president of Cosmos Group of companies, which is involved in exports, imports, manufacturing, telecom and finance, he should know.

He says, I have been in international trade since 1976. We started with exports but now with the diversification of the Indian economy we have also diversified into many areas.

He would like to use his global experience to strengthen Assocham. He says, I would like to strengthen Assocham in international businesses. We have decided to create international business forums, which will start with the US and Europe and will be followed up in 10 countries. The focus would be on different sectors in various countries. In the US, the focus would be on energy, infrastructure and financial services.

On the future of Assocham, he says, We are the oldest chamber and have a very strong membership base comprising top Indian business houses. The economy is changing and so is the role of industrial forums. Assocham has set up joint business forums with leading global industry chambers and is exploring the possibility of tie-ups with others to promote Indian business interests.

There is more to him than work. Hailing from a family of freedom fighters, educationists and philanthropists, he likes to spend most of his free time with family. He says, I dont like to spend my Sundays or holidays watching a movie in a theatre, but I like to spend it with my family. I cook for them in the afternoon. I learnt cooking when I was staying alone. My wife says I am a good cook. That doesnt mean that he pampers himself with rich food. However, he says, I maintain diet control and generally avoid fried food. Even if I have late night official dinners, I prefer to eat at home and then go to parties.

Agarwal starts his day at 6.30 am. A health freak, he regularly goes to the gym at 7 am where he spends an hour or so. A sports lover, he has a keen interest in hockey, tennis and volleyball. I have a trainer and I do yoga and aerobics. After my fitness routine is over, I start my day at 9 am and continue till 8 pm, sometimes working till 10 pm.

Agarwal says his father has been an inspiring force in his life. He taught me not to be scared of anything in life. He also taught me the principles of hard work, dedication and honesty.

Little wonder, austerity is a way of life for him. He says, I dont have a fascination for expensive things. I dont spend money buying expensive stuff for the heck of it. The aesthetic value of things should appeal to my senses before I decide to buy them.

He also runs an NGO, Samagam, that organises kirtans and bhajans for religious gatherings.