Schmoke to travel to India on mission to build cultural and economic ties

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is to leave Sunday for a one-week visit to India that is intended to build economic and cultural ties between Baltimore and the huge Asian subcontinent.

The trip, which is being paid for by STEP IN, an organization of Baltimore-area Indian business people, will include a reception in New Delhi for Indian business leaders with Thomas Pickering, the U.S. ambassador to India, as host.


A delegation of Baltimore-area business people will meet Mr. Schmoke in India.

Aides say the mayor's trip is intended to put Baltimore in a position to take advantage of India's efforts to make its economy more accessible to foreign business people. Tariffs are being reduced and much of the red tape that once kept foreign companies out is being cut.


India is seen as an attractive market because despite grinding poverty in many areas, it has a substantial middle class. The country's population of 870 million includes 300 million middle-class residents, according to a recent article in Fortune magazine.

"This is a promotional trip to that new marketplace," said Lee Tawney, an aide who will accompany Mr. Schmoke on the trip. "This is really an opportunity to promote ourselves in this new emerging market."

Mr. Schmoke, who will be in India from Sunday through Nov. 29, will begin his trip in New Delhi. He will then travel to Ahmedabad and Bombay.

"I am excited about this opportunity to visit India at a time when its economic system is opening up so dramatically," Mr. Schmoke said in a statement.

The trip to India is being organized by STEP IN. The group is paying the travel expenses of Mr. Schmoke and his wife, Dr. Patricia Schmoke, Mr. Tawney and a bodyguard for Mr. Schmoke. The Schmokes will pay the travel expenses for their daughter, Kathy.

Others who will be part of Mr. Schmoke's group in India include Sudhur Trivedi, president of Sunbelt Corp.; Tom Koch, president of Curtis-Cummins Engine Systems; Tai Lee of PTC International; and Lilit Gadhia, an attorney and president of STEP IN.