Indians are among lots of reasons to love Melbourne

Melbourne’s Federation Square is the focus of the annual Diwali celebrations

Born here, I naturally love Melbourne.

But in my lifetime the city has been transformed via migration and especially by the increase in local Indians and students. It is now an exciting place – for example, in normal non-covid times, the city centre and Federation Square is taken over by Diwali celebrations.

India accounted for around 178,000 visitors to Victoria every year.

More than 67,000 international students were here before the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia – and now we can welcome them back!

We have the largest Indian population in Australia, with more than 209,000 Victorians reporting Indian heritage at the 2016 census. Since 2001 the number of Indian-born migrants in Melbourne has more than tripled.

Indians living in Melbourne love:

  • living in Melbourne’s suburbs with safe, accessible transport
  • local supermarkets, Indian grocery stores and restaurants
  • Melbourne’s festivals, museums and cultural events (including Diwali, Holi and more)
  • Victoria’s world-class education system
  • dining out in Melbourne’s renowned restaurants.

If you’re thinking about migrating to Australia from India, Melbourne could be the perfect home for you.

Melbourne has the 10th largest immigrant population among world metropolitan areas. In Greater Melbourne at the 2016 census, 37% of residents were born outside of Australia.

Qantas’ Melbourne-Delhi service starts will start on December 22 and operate four times a week year-round.

Just another reason we love Melbourne.

Launching your startup into India – my 5 key tips

The team that have taken Australian startup CANVA global – India is a market for almost every startup

Launching your startup into India – 5 key tips

Here’s a big generalisation – almost every startup can find an eager market in India.

I say that with confidence, because the Indian economic growth story means demand for everything cannot be met – demand is huge, so that means opportunity for your startup.

But how to approach India?

First – think longer term than you normally do, but keep in mind modern India can be either fast or slow and there is no way of predicting.

Second – leave your ego behind. Pretty much every western company that has succeeded in India has done so on the support of a strong local Indian team across all levels. To do this, they have effectively left their ego behind.

Third – India wants your startup, NOT your culture. Those who struggle typically want to transfer their “culture” to India, so they put their expat team in charge of the local team.

Being preoccupied with transferring “the way we do things in our company” to India makes them blind to “the way Indians do things there” which is the most important insight for future success.

Fourth – use your expat team wisely. Expats can come and go as needed – but your business needs longevity in India and that is what an Indian management team can provide.

Fifth – Smart companies that go into Asia also ensure they hire Asians into the Head Office team, so you have Asians running your enterprise on the ground in Asia and Asians at the right level in HO guiding and advising the HO team.

The future of startups and innovation is looking good for India.


Message to Vir Das – is bagging your country wise when overseas?

Pictured is Indian comedian Vir Das who recently publicly criticised India

I love India. I do not think it is perfect – just like every other country, it of course is not perfect.

India is many cultures, many languages and with powerful regional differences.

It is experiencing massive generational change with Millennials and Gen Z changing the landscape from “born something” to “become something”.

This change is happening at a rapid rate – even with an “old” leader, PM Narendra Modi. Funny you chose to be critical of septuagenarian leaders in India when you were in a country with a 78 year old President who replaced a 75 year old. By contrast, Modi is a “youthful” 71.

Having said all that, I would not criticise India in any global forum or in any other country. Why not? I just don’t like negativity and especially not on the international stage. Since you are an Indian you might feel that you can make these criticisms.

So my message to Vir Das is simple – I am sorry you chose to focus on the negative, especially on the international stage. Of course, I believe you have a right to your view. But consider building your comedy with respect and care. India is not perfect – but it is changing fast.

Australia told to be partners, not adversaries, with China

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore and PM Scott Morrison of Australia

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore gives advice to Australia on China

“China is one of the biggest policy questions for every major power in the world. You need to work with the country. It is going to be there, it is going to be a substantial presence. You don’t have to become like them, neither can you hope to make them become like you. You have to be able to work on that basis, that this is a big world in which there are different countries, and work with others who are not completely like minded but with whom you have many issues, where your interests do align. There will be rough spots … and you have to deal with that. But deal with them as issues in a partnership which you want to keep going and not issues, which add up to an adversary which you are trying to suppress. That is speaking in very general terms, but I think that’s from Singapore’s point of view how you have the best chance of developing a constructive relationship and avoiding very bad outcomes.”

INTO INDIA has long campaigned for Australia to just calm down and deal with the massive regional opportunity (and challenge) that we face.

Such common sense. Calm, rational and accepting of reality.

Can Australia follow this advice?

Emerging Markets Guru Mark Mobius – India a 50-year rally

Emerging Markets guru Mark Mobius is bullish on India

Thanks to my friend Mugunthan Siva, Managing Director, India Avenue Investment Management for spotting this one!

“India is on a 50-year rally,” even when there are quick bouts of bear markets, veteran Emerging Markets investor Mark Mobius mentioned in an interview on Bloomberg Tv. “India is possibly the place China was once 10 years in the past,” he said.

A man of his word, Mark Mobius has allotted nearly half of his emerging-markets fund to India and Taiwan to assist offset a slide in China shares that has dragged down returns from creating nations as an entire.

Mobius’ bullish view on India clashes with these of analysts at Morgan Stanley and Nomura Holdings Inc, who’ve downgraded the inventory market after the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex Index greater than doubled from a March 2020 low.

“Individuals say emerging-markets look unhealthy as a result of China is dragging down the index, however they’ve got to have a look at different areas similar to India which can be going up,” mentioned Mobius, who created Mobius Capital Companions LLP after a profession at Franklin Templeton Investments.

The Mobius Rising Markets Fund has a mixed 45% of its portfolio allotted to India and Taiwan, with tech {hardware} and software program the largest holdings in these markets. Indian software program companies supplier Persistent Techniques Ltd. and eMemory Know-how Inc, a Taiwanese chip know-how supplier, have been amongst its largest stakes as of end-September. The shares have each greater than doubled this year.

9 weird things about Australians

CAUTION – these are generalisations that are meant to be helpful, but you will find exceptions.

  1. Aussie Modesty

Australians admire humility and authenticity. They loath boasting or pretentiousness. Even if their company is number one in its sector, they will often just say “we’re not too bad”, preferring understatement to boasting.

Informality and humour are always present in Australia – the Prime Minister would be greeted on a first name basis by people he or she had never met.

An unusual part of Australian humour is to make comments about someone that seem to be critical – but this is actually a sign of friendship. If I am given a project to do, an Australian might say “you will find some way to mess this one up” and this is meant as humorous and friendly.

People from countries where “face” is highly valued will find some of this humour difficult. But it is never meant to be offensive.

Because Aussies are laid back and informal, they think you will automatically like them, even though they might be giving offense with their humour.

An Australian with a PhD will not like you using the title – “just call me Steve” is their usual response to being called Dr Jones.

These characteristics can be a challenge for people from cultures which place high value on formality, titles, achievements and so on.

2. “Mates” in Australian Relationships

“Mate” is the Australian word for close friend. Once you become a mate, you will stay that way because Australians put mateship and loyalty together.

“Mates” can cross financial and social barriers – a rich person could be “best mates” with their gardener, and so on.  

This is part of the overall friendliness and openness.

3. Tall Poppy Syndrome

Australians like everyone to be in the middle – so if you are poor, you will get welfare, if you are rich, be wary of flaunting your wealth because they will try to bring you down to earth. Anyone claiming to be the best, or boasting about some valid achievement is fair game for tall poppy syndrome.

“Chopping off tall poppies” is almost a national sport.

4. A Multi-Cultural Society

Australia is a very multicultural society with a strong mix of indigenous groups, individuals with historical European roots, and a diverse mix of immigrant populations – lately this has been dominated by India and China. Approximately 25% of Australian citizens were born overseas and almost half the population had at least one parent who was born overseas.

The indigenous groups, made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, share rich, ancient cultures and histories.

Post-World War II Australian attracted immigrants to boost the population and work force, mainly from Europe, (especially from Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Yugoslavia), Lebanon and Turkey.

Large numbers came from Northern Europe in the 1950s, Southern Europe in the 1960s and Vietnam (as a consequence of war) in the 1970s.

Such diversity has changed how Aussies see themselves – as a multi-cultural and multi-faith society rather than the homogenous, white, Anglo- Saxon, Protestant nation of old.

5. Meeting Etiquette

Australian culture is not very formal, so greetings are typically casual and relaxed. A handshake, smile and a simple ‘hello, how are you’ should suffice.

While an Australian may say, ‘G’day’ or ‘G’day, mate’, this is meant to be a warm and friendly greeting, but this may sound a bit off-handed to foreigners.

Aussies prefer to use first names, even at the initial meeting.  As such, avoid using titles when you first meet someone and, instead, introduce yourself with your first name only.

6. Gift Giving Etiquette

Small gifts are commonly exchanged with family members, close friends, and neighbours to mark special events such as birthdays, births, engagements or Christmas.

Trades people and service people such as cleaners, may be given a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer!

If you are invited to someone’s home for dinner or a lunch time barbeque, it is polite to bring a box of chocolates, bottle of wine or flowers to your hosts.

Australians are relatively big meat eaters and can sometimes be insensitive to vegetarian diets – so it is important to let a future host know that you are a vegetarian.

In a culture that values humility and equality, it’s important that gifts are modest and not too expensive.

Although it’s acceptable to give high value gifts to those you’re close to, giving high value gifts to others may cause embarrassment and you may be perceived as flaunting your wealth.

Gifts are typically opened when received.

7. The Aussie “barbie” (BBQ)

The Aussie ‘barbie’ is an important part of Australian social culture.

Guests typically bring wine or beer as gifts for the host. In some cases, very informal barbecues may suggest that you bring your own meat!

As a vegetarian or someone who does not drink alcohol, let your host know these things before the event – they will adapt, and it saves embarrassment.

People tend to dress very casually at BBQs. For dinner, you can check the dress code beforehand.

In Australian culture, being overdressed can sometimes be more embarrassing than being underdressed!

You can contact the hosts ahead of time to see if they would like you to bring a dish.

Offering to help the hosts with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is well received.

How to indicate you have finished eating – lay your knife and fork parallel on your plate with the handles facing to the right.

8. Business Meeting Etiquette

Appointments are necessary and relatively easy to schedule. They should be made with as much lead time as possible. Many CEO’s will have an appointment diary covering two or three years and they like to stick to what is in the diary – meaning if you want to see them, make a request well in advance of the proposed day.

Punctuality is important in business situations. It is better to arrive a few minutes early than to keep someone waiting.

Meetings are generally relaxed; however, they are serious events.

Australians can be very direct in communication – if an Australian takes exception to something that you say, they will tell you so. It might seem offensive, but Aussies are straight shooters and expect that you can “take it” – that is, you will not get upset.

If you make a presentation, avoid hype, making exaggerated claims, or “bells and whistles”.

Australians get down to business quickly with a minimum amount of small talk.

They are quite direct and expect the same in return. They appreciate brevity and are not impressed by too much detail.

Negotiations proceed quickly. Bargaining is not customary.

They will expect your initial proposal to have only a small margin for negotiation.

They do not like high-pressure techniques.

9. Business Dress in Australia

Business dress is conservative in Melbourne and Sydney, but in recent years it is acceptable to be a little more informal – going to work in a suit but not wearing a tie has become fine. Men should wear a dark coloured, conservative business suit. Women should wear a smart dress or a business suit.  

Thanks to Commisceo Global for much of the above content.

India chasing battery manufacturing

India plans to pitch to companies such as Tesla, Samsung and LG Energy to encourage them to invest in manufacturing batteries within the country, as it looks to establish a domestic supply chain for clean transport.

India will host five roadshows starting next month in countries including the United States, Germany, France, South Korea and Japan to convince battery manufacturers to set up local production.

Tesla, LG Energy and Samsung are among those who will be invited to attend, although a delegate list has not yet been confirmed.

Other companies targeted include Northvolt, Panasonic and Toshiba. The move is a part of USD 2.4 billion incentive program to boost battery manufacturing for which the government has begun inviting investment proposals from companies.

8 things we need to know about India

Confident young Indians like these are driving new entrepreneurial spirit

CAUTION – generalisations are just that, and you will almost always encounter those who do not fit in this list. This is offered to assist those visiting India for business, education or tourism.

1. Successful and confident

Economic success has restored Indian confidence. Indian entrepreneurs are now recognized around the world and there is a national expectation that the next Bill Gates will be an Indian. This entrepreneurial spirit permeates the nation (most dream of becoming entrepreneurs) which is now confident.

2. Never forget rural people

Indian business and political leaders may live the urban lifestyles, but they do not forget the small towns and villages at the centre of rural life – and it’s not just the politicians with an eye for votes, with major corporates such as Infosys pouring resources and funding into village developments.

3. Avoid pointing the finger

Indians become instantly passionate when challenged on subjects like their high tariffs, especially if the challenge comes from the west. The message is, point the finger at India and you can expect a robust response.

4. Oceans of patience

Indians have oceans of patience which can drive westerners crazy, but it gives them a special strength in negotiations. This patience is derived from deeply held spiritual views such as impermanence – Indians are constantly reminded of the impermanence of this life, everything changes, and they can wait when often we cannot. Who has the advantage in this situation?

5. Not just an IT miracle

Do not be fooled with the view that the Indian economic miracle is just driven by call centres and IT. Important as these are, look also at insurance, energy, retail, clean technology, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and even agriculture as areas where efficiency is producing startling results.

6. Not especially “Asian”

While India feels great about the success of “Asia”, in many ways it does not feel particularly “Asian”. First and foremost, Indians feel Indian, and to them that is vastly more relevant than being geographically part of Asia.

7. Remember the “Father of the Nation”

Whether dealing with the young or the old, in India never forget the “Father of the Nation”, Mahatma Gandhi.

8. Equity up there with democracy

Partly because of Gandhi, Indian leaders are more concerned with equity than with spreading democracy around the world – and cannot understand the enthusiasm of the USA and its allies to champion democracy in unlikely locations.

Japan investing in India – role model for Australia?

Japanese firm SoftBank is leading investment into Indian IT and startups

Japanese investment in the Indian IT and start-up ecosystem has grown fourfold since 2016, according to a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), in association with Nomura Research Institute (NRI).

It estimated the investment is helping create 102,000 additional jobs.

Japanese investment reached US$ 9.2 billion, mostly by large investors like Softbank.

Fintech, healthcare and mobility are the top sectors drawing investment from multiple Japanese investors followed by e-commerce, enterprise, and real estate.

Japanese policymakers see India as a trustworthy partner for accelerating Japan’s digital transformation and began investing strongly in Indian tech start-ups since 2016.

Which raises the question for Australia – can India become a favoured investment location as Aussie companies strive for next level transformation?

Indian consumers flocking to Ultra-Premium groceries

Retail is changing fast in India

Freshpik has just been launched and marks Reliance Retail’s foray into the Ultra-Premium grocery segment in India. It is a new “experiential gourmet food store” and comes within the retail arm of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd.

Freshpik will offer a range of food items comprising fruits and vegetables – with specially curated organic varieties and live microgreens, essential ingredients for international cuisines like Japanese, Italian, Korean, and Thai, breads, ice creams, artisanal cheese, chocolates from local and international producers, and frozen desserts.

The ‘Good for You’ range of premium and healthy food products caters to the diverse dietary preferences of health-conscious customers.

Apart from this, customers can also choose from exotic varieties of tea and coffee; a wide range of personal care products, including premium ayurvedic and natural products; a host of kitchen accessories like cooking ware, serve ware, and bespoke and ready-to-pick gifting options.

A distinctive aspect of Freshpik is its immersive shopping concepts – created by integrating digital and physical themes – that elevate the experience of shopping to a whole new plane.

“If good food is your thing, Freshpik is a paradise. It’s a playground to delight all our senses, touch, see, smell, hear, taste, enjoy… Freshpik is a food experience, not just a store” said Damodar Mall, CEO Grocery Retail, Reliance Retail.