As the clock struck 11 this morning, the packed Khemka Auditorium of the Indian School of Business (ISB) plunged into pin-drop silence.
The 400-odd people who assembled at the place stop-ped their discussions and focused their eyes on the left side entrance of the arena.
They were enjoying every moment of the entry of US billionaire-investor and philanthropist, George Soros. And, for the next 90 minutes they were engrossed in a conversation with the Hungarian-American businessman.
Adjacent to the auditorium over 100 people sat in one of ISB's lecture theatres to witness Soros’s conversation live on a screen. They had registered for the meeting but could not be accommodated in the auditorium.
Soros, who is on a visit to India, did not give any speech. He just answered the questions raised by an ISB professor, Rueben Abraham, in the beginning and by the audience at the end. The audience mostly comprised ISB students, faculty members, corporate honchos and journalists.
The questions were wide ranging from the euro crisis to corporate governance and philanthropy. Soros spoke about the European crisis, the US economy, Africa, China and Russia. He was, however, not "up-to-date" on the situation in India.
A journalist wanted to know why Soros was more up-to-date on the Chinese economy than India. He said he would look at the Indian economy more now as he was in the country. “You can tell me more about it,” he said.
Soros also disappointed those who wanted his long-term outlook over the global economy and politics. “I don't believe in predicting the future. I don't know what will happen in the next five years,” he said.
Replying to a question on corporate governance, he said everything couldn't be in the open. “When everything has to be recorded in a meeting room, people have to go the toilet to discuss,” he said, sending the audience into splits.
At the end of the one-and-a-half hour enlightening conversation, the audience did not hesitate to display how much they valued their meeting with the financial genius. The auditorium reverberated with the sound of their claps.
The ISB brass was extremely happy. It had been a year-long effort on their part, particularly Rueben Abraham, to bring Soros to the campus. And Soros did not disappoint them.