Mumbai: The responsibility for running a family-owned business (Podar Enterprise), which is over a century old, lies with its managing director, Rajiv Podar. Despite overseeing an entity which has spread its tentacles across sectors such as education and skill development, affordable housing, and advisory services etc, Podar feels that there is lot more his institution can do, especially in areas relating to education.
Podar, seated in his sea-facing, yet a simple office, advocates the need to drive education to the next level in the country. Podar Enterprise runs around 19 educational institutions in Rajasthan. “For so long, our activity in education sector was confined to Rajasthan only. But we are now entering the higher education space in a commercial way (mostly pan-India),” says Podar. He is the Vice Chairman of Anandilal Podar Trust, Trustee of the Diamond and Golden Jubilee Trust of Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics and is on the Board of Advisors of the Richmond University and the American International University in London. In addition to all this, Podar emphatically states “I want to make sports education in India popular. I want to get the knowledge of the experts to Indian students.”
In June 2019 Podar will assume charge as Vice President of IMC Chamber of Commerce & Industry for the year 2019–20. Happily Podar explains, “I would like to use the IMC platform to create awareness about higher education.” He is optimistic about creating an impact in education especially sports education. For a cricket-lover like Podar, promotion of sports education is not a sudden inspiration. His institution had partnered with Cricket Australia to create a six-year structured programme to teach sports. “This is a very unique programme as it is probably the only structured programme with more than 700 pages of documentation relating to the game of cricket. It is a well-planned book for aspirants in sports.” Podar Eduspace, which is the educational arm of Podar Enterprise, runs such programmes. “We have got the global rights for this programme. We also have franchise partners for the same,” he adds.
Podar is also active on other fronts. He offers advisory services and is now looking at expanding this service especially in areas like affordable housing and entertainment. These are segments that he believes will expand dramatically in the coming years. His group has also taken up advisory roles for Chinese and Russian companies. Another area he has been looking at with immense focus is infrastructure – many multi-national companies are considering entering India to cater to this segment. “This is the same space that attracts huge investments too.” Podar adds.
Podar has received recognition from the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Industries of the Republic of Benin. Both have conferred on Podar special rights to negotiate matters concerning, expanding and deepening of trade and economic relations with India. Podar is the first point of contact for the Economic Promotion Council of the Kanton of Zug in India too.
When asked about the challenges faced when working with any foreign company, Podar replies, language and culture remain the biggest challenges. “The way of doing business is different in different countries. Every regions has a different style of working but over years with globalisation, processes have started to evolve.” Podar stresses that the world has truly become a global market due to internet and other forms of communications. “India too as a brand has grown internationally and that has now started drawing in the needed investments.”
Podar Enterprise works with around 10 associate-foreign companies. When asked, ‘Does the government’s present discouragement of international arbitration hurt business relations?’ Podar laughs. “Fortunately, none of his associates had a need to look at arbitration till now.” But, he adds, “arbitration, IP and trademark protection are concerns for many of our partners. But – it also needs to be emphasised that in India we do have a good legal system in place.”