Iowa’s Governor and a state representative who’s a native of India will lead a trade delegation to India this Friday. Representative Swati Dandekar of Marion says they’ll meet with India’s Minister of Commerce and Minister of Agriculture. Dandekar says the Iowans will explain how Indians can buy not only agricultural products like soybeans, soybean oil and corn oil, but heavy machinery. “India is a growing economy and also a growing population,” she says.

Sixty percent of Indians are under the age of 30, a statistic that Dandekar says surprised even her. Soy products are used in dishes featuring curry which are “famous in India” according to Dandekar. Dandekar is intimately familiar with the foods and traditions of India. “I was born and brought up in India. All my education was in India and I came here as a 20-and-a-half-year-old bride and that was about 33 years ago,” Dandekar says. “So people can figure out how old I am.”

When Dandekar visits her family, they tell her she now has an American accent, but she speaks five languages and expects to serve as an interpreter for Governor Vilsack and the Iowa business leaders who’ll be on the trip. “People in India have looked at me as their daughter who has done extremely well in Iowa and they give credit to the Iowans for accepting their daughter,” Dandekar. “It’s going to be great for Iowa because they want to do business with Iowa.”

Dandekar believes the trip couldn’t come at a better time. “Our timing is perfect,” she says. “President Bush will be there…and then we will be going there.” The Iowa delegation leaves Friday, March 10th, and is scheduled to return March 18th. The group will land in New Delhi, the nation’s capitol, then visit three other cities which have become hubs in the technology industry. They’ll experience the condition of the nation’s roads during their journeys, and Dandekar says that’s one reason why the Iowa delegation will focus on the sale of heavy machinery and equipment used to build roads.

“Those who have visited India, they have seen the growth in technology, the growth in biotechnology, but they will always say the roads and highways and byways are not as good as even the Indian ministers would like to see,” Dandekar says. Besides Dandekar and Governor Vilsack, there’ll be 23 other Iowans on the trip including Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lange, Dandekar’s husband Arvind who is a member of the State Economic Development board, the president of Des Moines Area Community College, two top administrators from the University of Iowa plus the president and executive director of the Iowa Soybean Association.

Executives from Mechdyne, a high-tech company in Marshalltown, and Dee Zee, a truck accessory firm in Des Moines, will also be on the trip.