When India talks business

Constant unyielding comparisons:

I happen to attend few of the startup events (in person or over the web) recently. Most of them were related to doing business in India or just say business in India. India, one of the biggest markets, probably one of the few of the balanced ones in terms of the range of products and services, stands as one of the largest growing economy of the world. Many other nations and investors would be interested in India. As in any typical Indian business event, I saw lots of promise and pretty active hope with beaming confidence of the investors as well as the entrepreneurs.

Getting inspired is very common and sometimes natural in India. We look at others’ examples for learning; which in some carefully limited sense, is good and preferred. However, I at every time during any discussion on business, could not help listen to the US (and sometimes, European or Chinese) examples more than India-centered conversation. Do we compare too much?

Comparison plays a very important part of lifestyle in India which was sadly seen on business stage as well. Do we have to follow the US or China or some other nation on development?

Lack of emphasis on our strengths:

Dependant and comparative attitude has already driven us away from our strengths. Despite having huge cultivated land for agriculture, we could not bring science and technology at the core inside of the agro business. It is not very surprising that farming, agriculture, fruit and flower cultivation techniques, water and land related innovations have emanated from US and European nations (notably, Switzerland, Netherlands and Israel from Asia). Have we forgotten our strengths all together? Despite an amazingly big market for vegetables/dairy/farm products in India, we rarely see green startups.

Agree to high extent that we have been blessed with some of the best Tech brains too, Indians are probably one of the most competently techie personalities. What concerns me is that despite a section in our nation being so strong, technology penetration into ordinary households is poor. The tech creamy layer has failed (Or just say, is not inspired enough) to spread it around India. Secondly, gradient of difference between people ‘attracted’ to tech startups and green startups is alarmingly steep west. On the top of my mind, it seems that this scenario has led India to an imbalance: despite high foreign currency investments, technology advancements and the IT, India’s still way behind the world in infrastructure (poor communication, poor networks and pathetic handling of emergency), pollution control, damage control due to natural hazards or calamities, and resisting the global warming.

Personal point in case: when I talked to investors and VCs about these issues needing to be addressed, few of them turned away blaming it all on Indian government while few just surrendered admitting their failures or impatience to deal with the Indian government.

Media negative propagation, not using media well:

Can media pressurize the government positively? Has the business community failed to focus on pressing (but equally potential) issues and spreading it across? Is the Indian media biased or just lagging behind the era? Has the term ‘constructive medium’ of communication vanished and Media’s now defined as ‘something that reports what happens around’?

Ignoring whichever the reason and whatever that has happened so far, India to become a strong nation needs its Business community and Media to focus constructively on long (or very long) term internal buildup [and not just look at short-term financial and strategic gains]

Not using the Indian Diaspora well:

Before I start on this, I must appreciate all startup incubators to make conscious efforts towards getting the ‘Rich and Investing’ Indian Diaspora around the world attracted to new business setups.

India is nation that commendably utilizes the outside currency earned by its citizens for growth. Reportedly, India has the highest incoming remittances which must be appreciated by even the most ardent critiques of the nation.

However, these incoming funds (except the notable exceptions of FIIs and FDIs and some VCs) are not majorly directed towards India’s growth in a balanced direction; SMBs which form India’s core of business. To attract investors, we must give them Value and nothing else.

Government restrictions:

The Indian government also plays a spoilsport and is most responsible for too many restrictions in every sector related to business. Weak internal security is blamed on technology, speedy growth of Telecom and Internet is always checked with numerous restrictions. India is still not a business friendly nation. What’s worse is that there has been no explicit attempt made to move forward in the direction. Any proposal to start a business is met with thousands of paper licenses which take almost an era.

Indian government, it seems, likes India to remain a nation of Snakes and Sadhus (with weak and poor villages). Not just the internal security (actually, sheer lack of it) but India’s ignorant attitude towards healthcare, education and layered social structure make it difficult for core development issues to be concentrated upon. Every election in India is still ruled by issues on castes and religions.

It is however astounding to see Mumbai as one of the major financial centers of the world and as one of the most optimistic markets at this time. Can’t help but imagine only if the government was a little more supportive!

There’s need to attract outsiders (not related to India) to come and invest and do business in India; many pillars of this structure; majorly infrastructure, security and the society need to change.

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