Thursday, February 01, 2007

Going Global Column in Fast Company's Blog Counters Wall Street Journal's Depiction of Business Climate in India

India has been in the news a lot lately. Whether it’s the cast of the UK TV show, Big Brother, being accused of racism towards the only Indian on set; or India’s Tata Steel buying Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steel group for $13.7 billion; or speculation that a nuclear India could counterbalance Iran and help stabilize the Middle East – India has become big news. I hope this marks a new trend.

Today’s Asian Wall Street Journal has a front page article headlined “Foreign Firms Find Rough Passage to India.” My experience couldn’t be more different – the Indian firms that I’ve done business with, as well as Indian journalists and other influencers, were a pleasure to work with. At times, it seemed as if they were actually grateful for the attention – given America’s near-obsession with China, India is often overlooked.

India is the world’s largest democracy. 300 million of its billion people are moving into the “middle class,” fueling economic growth rates most countries would envy. India has a vibrant free press; the rule of law is uniformly enforced. State-of-the-art infrastructure, combined with English-speaking Western-educated workers, makes India a comfortable global environment for most Americans.

Similar to any other emerging market, we need to learn more and they need to learn more. Just like the Chinese, personal relationships are crucial to success. The large and highly-networked expat and Indian-American community serves as an easy and welcoming bridge between the US and India. Unlike the Chinese, however, India’s business, legal, marketing, financial, and other aspects of business culture are stable, predictable, and remarkably similar to our own.

Anyone going global would be missing an attractive business opportunity, if they overlooked India. Counter to the Journal’s report, I see smooth sailing ahead in India.