Why get closer to India? About 600 million people, more than half India’s population, are under 25 years old; no country has more young people. Remember the economic impact of the western “baby boom”? It is time the west moved closer to India in trade, culture and tourism. What do you think? As the great Indian philosopher Rabindranath Tagore said: “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”
Stephen Manallack is a Director of India strategy consultants the EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and compiled the secrets of Indian business success and cross cultural issues while preparing his book for the Indian market, Soft Skills for a Flat World (Tata McGraw-Hill). He has led several trade missions to India and is a Cross-Cultural Trainer.
There is a lot to love about Australia, and given the number of Indian migrants, students and tourism who do come to Australia, it is clear Indians love it too. But Indians are also in for a few surprises.
1 Australia has a winter
Yes, one surprise for Indian visitors that it is not always sunny in Australia. Apart from the tropical north, most Aussie cities have four seasons. And people go snow skiing during the winter (resorts in NSW and Victoria).
2 Aussies will wear shorts plus a scarf and beanie on cold days
Bit strange to see, but such is the Aussie male love of wearing shorts that many do it during winter too.
3 A beer is not a beer
Indians who build up a thirst and drop into a pub might just order “a beer please” only to be asked if they would like a schooner, middy, pony, pot or a pint.
4 Kangaroos are not in the main city streets
Shocking to know that the sight of a kangaroo in any Australian major city would be more astounding to Aussies than to you – take short drive our of the city and you will see this very strange and highly dignified animal.
5 A short drive is always long
Speaking of short drives, Aussies will take off for a weekend getaway and drive for 5 or 6 hours. Nothing is close and every trip is a long trip in Australia, so they are used to long drives.
6 Yes, there are spiders the size of your hand
Spiders scare most Aussies as much as you – and some of these spiders are big. A huntsman can pop up when you least expect it. I won’t tell you about redbacks…just don’t put your hand into strange pipes or under rocks or rubbish.
7 Everything is “game on”
Rivalry is big in Australia, so everything is a competition – city vs city, state vs state, not to mention actual sport which is like a religion for Aussies – it pays to show even a mild interest in any sport to gain the respect of locals. Not to mention India vs Australia in cricket.
8 Thongs go with anything
The footwear known in Australia as “thongs” can be worn on a surprising number of occasions, including those hosting a social function in their home. It’s part of the national dress code, which values informality.
9 Sorry, but your name will not be your name
Australians love to play with names and, while this might be disrespectful in most countries, in Australia it is a sign of affection and acceptance if they abbreviate or adapt your name. Adding “o” is common – so I am often known as “Steve-o”. Again, friendly. So, Vijeth could become “Vij-mate”, or Abhishek become “Ab”, Sucheta becomes “Suchi” and so on – nicknames are everywhere.
10 Joking at funerals
Australians use humour to reduce the negative emotion of tough situations – so jokes might be shared, and laughter occur around the boardroom table, in class, during interviews and even at funerals. It’s a way of making everyone comfortable.
11 Tall poppies get cut down
Australia has the “tall poppy syndrome” which means anyone who takes themselves too seriously, or is too proud, or too vocal about their success, will probably be taken down. Sometimes it is a test to see if “you can take it”, because being able to laugh at what appears to be a criticism is seen as a good thing. They do it too themselves too – it is not uncommon for business teams representing their company to say to a potential client “we’ll find a way to mess it up” – but done with a grin.
12 Red lights are mandatory
Australian drivers stop at red lights. I know this is shocking to many Indians, but the level of compliance with small rules such as red lights is incredibly high. Even if they want to turn right and there is no oncoming traffic in sight, they will still stop if the light is red.
13 Informality is a sign of friendship
People are informal. At my golf club, a 12 year old junior member will see me and say “G’day Steve, how you going?” If Prime Minister Anthony Albanese walks by (which sometimes happens in this laid back country) many Aussies would greet him as “Albo” – yes, that is his nickname.
Pictured is Bengaluru (Bangalore) among the top Indian cities for sustainability
According to the Asia Pacific Sustainability Index 2021, the top 20 sustainable cities include four Indian cities: Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.
36 cities were ranked according to the APAC Sustainably Led Cities Index by global real estate firm Knight Frank based on urbanisation pressure, climate risk, carbon emissions, and government activities.
Singapore, Sydney, Wellington, Perth, and Melbourne were the top five green-rated cities in commercial real estate in the Asia-Pacific region.
Here’s a big generalisation – almost every product and service can find an eager market in India – the Indian economic growth story means demand for everything cannot be met – so that means opportunity for you.
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 business, NOT your culture. You will struggle if you want to transfer your “culture” to India – putting your expat team in long-term charge of the local team is a risky approach.
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 India also ensure they hire Indians into the Head Office team, at the right level in HO guiding and advising the HO team.
India – one of the world’s leading wheat producers – has placed an immediate ban on wheat exports.
As reported in this analysis by SOUTH ASIAN TIMES, the ban serves three main purposes: It maintains the food security for the country, it helps others who are in distress, and maintains India’s reliability as a supplier.
Around a dozen global consumer-facing companies reported robust growth in India in the January to March quarter, surpassing even pre-Covid levels with a high double-digit rate for several.
India is among the top-performing areas for several of these firms, including Unilever, Visa, Whirlpool, and Pernod.
Companies sold inventory amid increased Covid-19 instances and municipal restrictions, resulting in large discounts on some discretionary products such as apparel and shoes across platforms throughout the country. Several CEOs have also stated that they are increasing their investment in India.
Sales of everyday household products and basics grew mostly owing to price increases, as corporations raised prices to offset rising raw material, energy, packaging, and transportation costs.
A selfie at the Raisina Dialogue for Tharoor and Jaishankar – endorsing “multi-alignment”
From the west we often hear business leaders say “India wants to be more western” – but does it? Or is there a different world view in India?
Three points stand out for me:
FIRST, PM Narendra Modi recently stated that, while many countries have strayed from spirituality and towards consumerism, India should not do so.
SECOND, laying the foundation for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat, PM Modi stated that countries all over the world are focusing on traditional herbal systems to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and that Yoga has helped people all around the world establish mental balance by reducing stress.
THIRD, in an increasingly divided world with an “us vs them” view, India is an exception. Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday thanked External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for publicly giving him credit for the term “multi-alignment” and posted a selfie of them together at the ongoing Raisina Dialogue. There is a very conscious policy of engaging all the major powers simultaneously in a world. Who else is doing this?
Some of the best “corporate storytelling” is coming out of India
The most valuable companies in India include Tata Sons, Aditya Birla and Godrej. The most valuable in the world are Apple, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft (with the order changing every now and then). These companies cover a wide range of sectors but there is one common element. A consistent and strategic content narrative.
That’s an area well understood by Mumbai-based The Information Company (TIC) which is positioned as a “content, creative and digital agency preferred by India’s leading corporates”.
Corporate Storytellers. That’s how they like to be known.
The Information Company – Storytellers to India Inc
TIC started in 1999 and I have known them since 2004, when I connected with Founder Kiron Kasbekar, formerly Editor of The Economic Times (Bombay), Business Editor of The Times of India, and Managing Editor of Business India.
TIC has been ‘living and breathing’ content for more than 20 years, with its foundations built by top-notch journalists who brought their expertise in impactful storytelling to the game. Since then, TIC has added technologists, graphic designers, writers, videographers, and SEO specialists to the mix to execute great communication projects.
Their storytelling services are being used by the some of India’s largest, most influential, and best brands – Tata Sons, Aditya Birla Group, Godrej, Mahindra Group, Ambuja Cement, Hindalco, Fino, Cipla, Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel, Capgemini, Weber Shandwick, and many more.
Storytelling for a purpose
TIC doesn’t just tell stories – the focus on storytelling towards a purpose, whether that is building digital brand identity, promoting business interests, creating perceptions, or reaching out to stakeholders.
One of the most unleveraged areas of communication is ‘thought leadership’, with much of it being overt promotion or semi-advertising. Here, TIC has been able to carve out a niche – crafting the voices of corporate brand and corporate leaders, and delivering good thought leadership content that is credible, engaging, accurate and consistent.
One of their unique skills is to write authored articles on behalf clients across industries such as automotive, aviation, chemical, consumer products, energy, engineering, IT, insurance, oil & gas, pharma, mining, manufacturing and infrastructure.
Blogs for Interaction
Blogs is another area where, for many organisations, things go wrong. The most common mistake is to come across as self-promoting. Or the organisation starts a blog but tires of it – so their latest blog is two or three years ago. Not a good look.
But the blog can be immensely valuable – it is the one platform for any company to connect with all its stakeholders, interact with them, connect like-minded enthusiasts and so on – through focused storytelling. No wonder then that TIC creates over 30 blogs every month.
Websites that just don’t sit there
Owned communication assets such as websites should not be static – they need to be information rich, and continually updated. They are the first stop for information that is used by investors, clients, media, prospective customers, prospective employees, regulatory bodies. The website is a critical and strategic asset to broadcast the corporate narrative.
Tata Chemicals, Tata Trusts, Rallis, Lupin, Hindalco, Ambuja Cement Foundation, and Suzlon are just some of TIC’s website clients. And this does not include the list of intranet clients!
Sometimes, a visual story tells more than a thousand words. Infographics are mostly data driven – the magic lies in crafting a coherent story around data.
By writing compelling text and presenting it in an efficient and visually pleasing manner, TIC ensures that an engaging story emerges from each Infographic. This form of content is its way, both art and science.
Campaigns – traction and reaction
Engaging with employees – especially in an age of WFH – has taken on a new significance. Companies often rely on emailer campaigns to connect. But how do we gain traction and reaction?
Whether the campaign is to showcase business achievements, announce a product launch or an event, highlight business achievement, connect with employees or other stakeholders, TIC partners several big corporates to put in the right words to their thoughts.
Social media campaigns take the need for creativity to another level. Here too TIC builds award-winning strategic campaigns for clients such as Godrej and Hindalco.
Video now “most effective”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth 1.8 million – that is the view of TIC, and they see video as “the most effective way to narrate a story”. Be it explainer, animated, VFX, event, HR videos or corporate films, TIC creates videos for Aditya Birla Group, Sterling & Wilson, Asian Paints, and Hindalco.
Beware of stepping into ‘content overload’, a sign of our times. How do you ensure ‘thumb-stopping’, shareworthy content for your brand? One easy hack is to make sure the content is dynamic, visually rich and – most important – interactive! Adding a layer of interactivity to your content – blogs, posts, videos, graphics, podcasts, whatever – will add to brand recall and engagement. Even a simple quiz, for instance, becomes interactive content and can be a game changer for your brand. And that is what TIC delivers.
Awards tell the story
Recognition is the best sequel to creativity. TIC has won a slew of awards for its work – here is just a tiny fraction of the recent accolades won:
Double Platinum at the ‘AVA Digital Awards 2022’ for Tata Sons e-magazine and a video for Sterling & Wilson Renewable Energy Ltd
‘Mint Marketing Award 2021’ for Hindalco’s #WomenAtHindalco social media campaign
Gold for Hindalco’s internal newsletter at the ‘Afaqs! Digies 2021’
Bronze for Aditya Birla Group’s #HaathUthanaZarooriHai video at the ‘Velocity Awards’
Best Content agency at ‘The Great Indian Content Marketing Awards 2021’
For more on how TIC can support your communication objectives, just drop a message on firstname.lastname@example.org. Or better still, call at +91 842 581 4016 / 17.
Citrus exports from Australia to India are expected to boom following the trade deal – from 2019 –21, Australian growers exported more than $18 million of oranges and mandarins to India. This rates India as a key market for Australian horticulture exports.
Australian Fresh Produce Alliance CEO, Michael Rogers is upbeat about the trade deal and said: “The opportunities presented by the agreement will enable a number of existing exporters, like those in the citrus industry, to capitalise immediately.”
INTO INDIA has advocated setting up some form of horticulture centre in India for knowledge sharing, skills training and more – good timing now!
The interim agreement will see tariff elimination over 7 years on a variety of Australian horticulture products including blueberries, avocados, onion, cherries, asparagus, lettuce and celery. Other significant gains for the sector include an immediate halving of the tariff within the tariff rate quota for oranges and mandarins.
Despite the interruptions caused by the COVID19 pandemic, Australian horticulture exports continue to grow, with exports in 2021 reaching $2.65 billion.
Future growth of horticulture exports to India is definitely on the way!