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Inside India
"India, in spite of its visible shortcomings, has also been sometimes-invisibly recharging its batteries. Some of this process, as my book strives to show, is hidden by the fact that India, unlike the West, is a content- rather than a form-oriented culture. Even more than Indian ITís now well-known record in CMM certifications, those aware of the Six Sigma quality of Mumbaiís lunchbox delivery boys, known locally as tiffin-wallahs, or the fact that, yes, a British newspaper, the famous Sunday Times, found that Indiaís 14,000 dirt-covered long-distance trains, each day carrying the equivalent of Belgiumís entire population, ran on average more on time than those few shiny ones in the UK Ė these are some signs of what content, rather than form, means and is one of the key reasons I always tell colleagues visiting India: Stop judging the Indian Opportunity by the standards of the arrival hall at New Delhi airport....
"India's strengths, not a few of them hidden, but all of them very much part of what I define as its very 'Indianness', have not only been emerging, sometimes unexpectedly. Such a rise will also pose unique challenges (and opportunities) both for India and the world."

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya, keynote address to Leuven Inc., June 7, 2005.
In recent years, Western media portrayals - and public opinion - about India have been increasingly disjointed from reality, especially in the light of the rapid changes under way in the country. [As recently as August 2005, the respected 'Economist' was writing about India under the label "Not losing hope".]

Today, the risk of viewing India through the lens of a social anthropologist can be especially frustrating. This is because, in spite of the litany of problems associated with caste, religion and poverty, India has not broken apart or come to a standstill. Instead, it appears to have broken out from the confines of its previous 'Hindu rate' of growth, and risen into the ranks of the world's fastest growing economies.

Understanding the internal, sometimes typically 'Indian' forces at play in this context, are important for several reasons. These are some of the issues explained by IndiaAdvisory.
What are the different ways of doing business in India? What is the difference between Old and New India, and how should you leverage this?
Who runs India today? What are the real power centers, and the distribution of power between politicians and the bureaucracy, between provinces and the central government? How does the stock market work?
How do Indian Big Business houses match up to New Economy companies, and to new entrants in Old Economy sectors?
How many billion dollar companies were there in India in 2000 ? What is their number today ? How many will there be in 2015?
What are the risks of replicating the Bangalore / Hyderabad IT sector model for investing, say in heavy industries in Orissa or Uttar Pradesh, or even Tamil Nadu? Where do you choose to invest in India?
When did India's population change from being a liability to an asset? What is the meaning of this for 'graying' Europe, which has suddenly stopped thinking about early retirement and flextime?
In spite of a small fraction of foreign direct investment inflows into China, India has begun to attain similar rates of growth. Why?
India boasts a high level of efficiency in the use of capital, by its world class (and now globalizing) private sector. This is supported by relatively mature and growingly sophisticated soft infrastructure, from capital markets to lending institutions. What will be the impact of such institutions overseas? Conversely, how can outside entities plug into India's soft infrastructure?
Is India's top-down services-led development model redefining trickle-down, because its top end extracts comparative advantage from the highest value ends of the international economy?
This services-led model does not mean that there is no high-employment manufacturing sector in the offing. How will it differ from China? What are the opportunities it will create?
Infrastructure is the next Big Thing in India. What does this mean? How much extra points will new reforms add to GDP growth?
Could the Indian economy grow at 15% a year? Why not?
Why have few experts (other than Mr. Sheshabalaya) considered the implications of India's astonishing income distribution / quintile ratios, as a means to understand India's internal demand drivers. This is the meaning of an 'organic' and homogeneous middle class. Illustrations of this range from the rapid peaking in demand for premium cable TV in Latin America to the seeming inelasticity of demand in India for energy.
But then how big is the Indian middle class? How is it stratified ? How fast is it growing? What are its buying patterns? How does it parallel / differ from the West?
A new Third World development model is now taking root in India, in some cases using imaginative New Economy initiatives for rural inhabitants. This is not out of charity. Rural markets have been, and will continue to be critical to India. Can this model be extended outside to other parts of the Third World ? Are there opportunities for the West here?
For early insights on such topics, please click here.
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