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Let’s engage with India

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. 

India and China – a simple comparison

The Indian economy is expected to grow by 7.3% in the current fiscal year, which ends in March.

China is expected to grow by 2%.

Population of China is 1.4 billion (approx), ageing and declining.

Population of India is 1.4 billion (approx), young and growing.

Indian economy is driven by supplying local demand as the youthful population and middle class growth increase demand.

Chinese economic growth has largely been driven by making and exporting.

India as a domestic demand-driven economy – is less sensitive to global downturns.

China is an export driven economy – highly sensitive to global downturns.

And we have not even got onto world’s largest democracy, innovative driven, attracting and welcoming western investment and more…

Compare the two – what do you think?

Read the best short summary of why India is the bright spot economically

This is one of the best summaries of why India should be on your business and trade radar.

My good friend Hareesh Tibrewala provides the great summary – he is the Author of ‘If I Had To Do It Again’, a Social Media Strategist and Internet Entrepreneur – currently Joint CEO of Mirum India.  

“Right now the Indian economy seems like the brightest spot among all large economies.

“One one hand, the whole of Europe is suffering the brunt of the Ukraine war. And irrespective of sanctions against Russia, and who is winning or losing the war, the brunt is actually being faced by Europe in form of inflation and energy issues.

“On the other hand, the US seems to be struggling to come out of Covid. There are just no people anywhere to fill in the job vacancies. Every shop or outlet has “Hiring” signs in their window. And salary levels, even for minimum wage kind of jobs seems to have increased dramatically.

“And finally China, who was powering the world economy for the past few decades seems to be floundering thanks to zero-covid policy and an unprecendented drought.

“Overall the APAC region, and specifically India, seem to be comparatively doing much better and seem stable.”

Thanks Hareesh – well said!

India agricultural, processed food products exports up 30% to US$ 9.6 billion in April-July

INTO INDIA has written regularly on agribusiness growth in India – and the opportunities this presents. The story is gathering pace…

India’s exports of processed food and agricultural products increased by 30% to US$ 9.6 billion from April-July of this fiscal year. Fruit and vegetable exports increased by 4% during the time period, according to data from the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S).

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, an export goal of US$ 23.56 billion has been set for the basket of agricultural and processed food goods for 2022–2023.

The first four months of the current fiscal saw a growth of 61.91% in the export of dairy products, reaching US$ 247 million. Basmati rice exports climbed by 29.13%, rising from US$ 1.21 billion in April–July 2021 to US$ 1.56 billion in April–July 2022. Non-Basmati rice exports increased by 9.24% to US$ 2.08 billion in the same time period.

There is a lot happening in the agriculture sector in India – time for you to upgrade your India engagement strategy?

Read more here:

https://www.livemint.com/economy/indias-agricultural-and-processed-food-products-exports-up-by-30-to-9-598-mn-11662993250147.html

Putin, Xi and Modi likely meeting at the SCO starting today – is it a challenge to the QUAD?

India has always been skilled at dealing with both sides of diplomatic arguments – and it has an inclination towards “multilateral” and even “multi-bilateral” arrangements while western friends prefer “bilateral”.

So, it will be interesting to see what role Indian PM Modi will play at the 22nd leaders’ summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to be held on 15–16 September – the first in-person gathering of the central Asian grouping since 2019.

While it might not make page one news, politicians and diplomats around the world will be closely watching this summit to be held in the ancient Uzbek Silk Road city Samarkand. Not only is it providing Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin their first face-to-face meeting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and declaration last year of a “forever partnership” – but it also comes after an interval where Indian PM Modi became closer and more impactful at the QUAD.

The members of SCO are China, India, Tajikistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. Four Observer States were involved in granting full membership (Belarus, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Nepal, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Turkey).

The QUAD nations are India, USA, Japan and Australia.

If he attends, Modi is expected to have meetings with Putin and Xi, giving a further glimpse as to how India is likely to map out its relationship with Eurasia’s great powers.

Modi has previously stood up to pressure from QUAD countries to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so as a leader he has a track record of combining non-confrontation with firm commitment to his own position.

Indian consumers are optimistic, even during Covid – McKinsey

A McKinsey survey has found that nearly three-quarters of India’s consumers are optimistic about economic recovery, and net intent to spend is growing and positive across many categories.

Omnichannel usage continues across the majority of categories.

Social-media influence is high, especially for Gen Z and millennials. More than 90 percent are engaging in social media and entertainment platforms.

There is an upward trend for new technology, such as crypto and augmented reality/virtual reality, and consumers intend to continue digital activities as the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

About 40 percent of consumers are engaging in out-of-home activities, especially among the vaccinated segment.

Most consumers have tried new shopping behaviours’ such as new retail outlets and new brands.

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/survey-indian-consumer-sentiment-during-the-coronavirus-crisis

Find the right business partner in India

 One of the most frequent questions for INTO INDIA is how do we find the right business partner in India? Most case studies of Australian businesses succeeding in India reveal one key element – finding the right local partner.

What is the right local partner?

It is much more than someone who says “yes”. Too many have been frustrated in Indian market entry because they forged alliances with any and everyone who said “yes” – which means everyone they meet. India is a culture that cannot say no, so be wary of the yes answer.

The right partner is already active and successful in your field. They can show you their track record.

Your right partner will have connections among suppliers and customers, and will be keen to introduce you to them so you can form your own judgement.

In the collective culture of India, your right partner will be well connected in the various business chambers and will have good connections in government – central and state. This right partner will demonstrate these connections by organising meetings for you, rather than just saying “yes” we are connected.

Your right partner will be someone you double check with Austrade and with other reliable connections you have in India or Australia.

Your right partner could ultimately become an agent, a joint venture or more. They might just be a trusted individual who willingly offers to make connects for you – this freely opening doors does occur in India.

Your right partner might be a talented individual who you hire into your business. Or it might be a combination of external and internal. Patience will be your best friend as you make these choices.

Finally, your right partner will develop relationships for you – because in Indian culture relationships matter. Relationships first, business second is the path to long term business in India. Quick deals are just that – one transaction that might not lead to anything.

So, how are you going finding the right partner in India?
 

Online meetings present the challenge – how do I introduce myself?

Zoom, Teams and other online meetings are now part of our lives. In many of these meetings, you are called upon to introduce yourself. Maybe everyone is introducing themselves.

It can get the pulse raising and the mind in overdrive. What will I say? Where should I focus? Will they like me? Meanwhile, we are missing out on all the other interesting introductions happening.

The stress can be negative – or positive. Through practice, we can come to recognise stress when it arises and use it for good – ah, now, better concentration, sharper reflexes, and so on. In contrast, if we have a negative reaction to stress it can mess up our introduction – nervous, shaky voice, tongue-tied, rambling on….

So, what is the easiest way to introduce yourself?

Like all public communication, the secret is to keep it simple.

The simplest way to introduce yourself is in three parts (and this might mean just three sentences) – present, past and future. People love this approach – they recognise the structure, simplicity and like a note about the future.

A present-tense statement to introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m Stephen, and I’m a communication consultant and author. My current focus is mentoring and writing.”

Past tense might be just two or three points about your background and gives you credentials and credibility. An example: “My background is in corporate communication, and I have previously advised top 100 corporates and big four professional services firms.”

Future tense is all about projecting optimism and enthusiasm – two very likeable characteristics. In a meeting this should relate to the topic. “In the next 12 months I plan to do more writing towards a new book and meetings like this give me not only content, but the motivation to keep exploring”.

Simple? Present, past and future. Each can be as long or short as the occasion requires – but always err on the side of shorter. Trust me – you will gradually enjoy (and smile) while introducing yourself.

How fast is India changing? It is about to become the largest producer of steel on the planet

INTO INDIA has written about the extraordinary transformation that is happening in the “New India” – airports, roads, ports, urban renewal, smart cities, shopping malls, digitisation and online shopping.

But is is truly stunning to hear that India is right on the verge of being the biggest steel producer in the world.

On August 23, Minister of Civil Aviation and Steel, Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, stated that India would soon become the world’s top steel producer. The Minister was addressing an NMDC and FICCI-organized conference on the Indian minerals and metals business. After China, India is the second-largest producer of crude steel worldwide.

He believed that India had switched from being a net steel importer to an exporter of steel. According to him, India now consumes 78 kg of steel per person, up from 57.8 kg in 2013–14. By 2030, the government wants to produce 300 million tonnes (MT) of steel, according to Mr. Scindia.

READ MORE:

https://www.ndtv.com/business/india-to-become-worlds-number-one-producer-of-steel-union-minister-jyotiraditya-m-scindia-3278800

7 myths about doing business with India

In India take time out to look and learn – like me at India Gate in Delhi.

Myth one

Do everything their way and let your Indian host lead

Yes, always let your Indian host lead the conversation. But no, they might not want to. And no, you might have a simple offer or point to make. So – how to converse? I always let Indians know (and remind them) that as an Australian I am informal and friendly and direct – so please I hope that is OK with you (of course it is) – then make your point.

Myth two

Indian companies are family businesses

Yes, a lot of them are. No, many of them are not. And no, again, many are now a mixture as family businesses look for more innovation and more skills. And by the way, a high number of Australian and western companies are family businesses too – just find the way each company wants to do business.

Myth three

Always wear formal business clothes

In my almost two decades of engagement with India, this has changed. There are times for formal (less of them) and times for informal (lots more of them). Yes, Delhi is more formal. Yes, Mumbai is more informal. Most of your business or smart casual clothing will be fine over there.

Myth four

Always negotiate

True, India is a culture where negotiating over price and service is a constant – like a way of life. But business can be different. Indian companies know an enormous amount about western business preferences. More important than negotiating for the deal, be prepared for changes as you go along the relationship – Indians are flexible and accepting of change, so you should be too.

Myth five

Get to know your business partner first

This one has been my mantra for a long time – but I am also now seeing demand and hunger for products and services grow so fast in India that sometimes they are ready for business – now. Get to know them later. Be ready for anything – and where you can take time to build relationship.

Myth six

Be clear and direct in communication

I have tried this one and it rarely works for me. Communication takes two, right? If the other side is ready for clear and direct, then do it. But if not, you will fail in communication. One thing more important – be patient, the deal can always be done later, let things settle, exchange some emails, chat a bit – you will find a way. Again – whenever I feel direct communication is helpful, I always preface it with “You know that we Australians like to be very direct – especially on the cricket field”.

Myth seven

Make the most of your time in India by filling the day with appointments

This has never worked for me. Indians are proud of their country, the culture, history, architecture and more – so it seems to me it makes good sense to go see and learn about this. When you can talk to your Indian host about something you have seen, it enlivens everything. It’s much the same for us in Australia isn’t it? So, have some “free” time for looking around.

Is India the global centre of autodidacts?

Autodidacts.

People who love learning and take ongoing learning into their own hands.

How do you know if you’re an autodidact?

Autodidacts are busy, goal-oriented individuals who never run out of things to do. They are generally curious about things and believe in thinking outside the box. Their curiosity is effervescent, and they can easily talk about a subject they had no formal education in for hours together.

In my experiences of many visits and countless interactions, I have found India to be in love with ideas, open to exchange learning and in every way, it is the role model for would-be autodidacts.