Flipkart is more than India’s version of Amazon – it will become a giant

Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart is planning to set up an integrated logistics park on the outskirts of Bengaluru. This will be the largest and of-its-kind facility in the country. The facility, for which the company is in the process of acquiring 100 acres of land, will house multiple massive warehouses that will rival in size those set up by Amazon and Alibaba in the US and China.

The park, location of which will be finalised in the next few months, will have 1.5 million square feet of warehousing space by the middle of next year.

In comparison, the largest e-commerce warehouse in the country today is run by US online retail giant Amazon in Telangana, which spans 400,000 square feet.

I have used Flipkart for many years – my early transactions were for books which could not be found elsewhere. Always found Flipkart to be efficient and I would recommend them to you.

Of course, Amazon is a growing player in the Indian market but you can see that this home grown e-commerce firm is competing hard and is set to succeed. Flipkart

Is India the world’s most polite country?

India could be the world’s most polite country. Everybody says “yes”. Nobody ever says “no”. It’s amazing. You arrive on your first trade mission, seeking new markets, and every meeting is a wild success – great friendship, much laughter, the response of “yes” to everything you ask. After day one you are exhilarated – how lucky am I to meet the right people? Day two is the same – “yes”. Days three, four and five provide more “yeses”. Then you go home, report on your extraordinary success and close relations with Indians and wait for things to happen. You might wait a long time.

What is happening here? Indian culture values relationship above all else. Everyone you meet instantly has a “relationship” with you and it is their duty to help. Indians cannot say “no” without giving deep offense. The nearest they come to a “no” is “I will try”. So, “yes” they can import your product, “yes” they would be a good agent, “yes” they know how to take you to market.

Is this “yes” just telling lies? Have you been deliberately deceived? If someone did this in the west, with our cultural background, their response of “yes” would indeed be an offensive lie. But consider my experience of being lost in Colaba in southern Mumbai – I love to wander around this fabulous part of the city. Getting lost is a regular experience for me. The first time, I asked a young man if he knew the way to my hotel. He immediately instructed me – “Go straight ahead, turn right then left and you will surely find it”. How wonderful, I am saved. But 100 metres later it does not feel right and I laugh at my own foolishness. I ask another, who sends me back and he actually knows the way to my hotel. The first person simply did the very best he could in the relationship at that time.

So next time someone in India says “yes”, just remember you are in the world’s most polite country. Otherwise, like me, you might get lost.

World’s largest solar plant for Karnataka shows how India is leading the way


According to the Press Trust of India, the world’s largest solar park has been launched in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district. Known as ‘Shakti Sthala’, the park spans 13,000 acres spread over five villages and provides major economic benefits to local farmers and communities.

The park was completed without land acquisition and in a record time of two years – farmers leased out their land and receive rental returns. The beneficiaries of this project were 2,300 Pavagada farmers.

The chief minister said Karnataka has emerged as the third largest producer of renewable energy in the nation and was taking “bold strides” towards emerging as an energy surplus state. Their goal is 20 per cent of power from renewables.

The park will create employment and act as an incentive for natives and farmers to explore new opportunities of socio-economic growth in the region.


Interesting to note – given the controversy in Australia about the Adani Group’s ambitious coal project – a 648-mw power project set up by the Adani Green Energy, part of the Adani Group, in Tamil Nadu in 2016 was billed as the world’s largest solar plant.



My secret insight into Holi

On the final day of an India trip that included five cities, I spent time in Kolkata with the family of a Melbourne friend. Love that city – walk, talk, eat sweets! On the last day, we had several appointments and then I was flying home. But in that day, I discovered my very own secret of Holi.


Having about an hour free between our appointments, we went to the wonderful Tagore museum, honouring Rabindranath Tagore, poet, philosopher and inspiration. From the first floor window we noticed the entire museum was surrounded by university students celebrating Holi, it was a riot of colour and laughter. Holi this year was 1 and 2 March – and it is known in India as the “Festival of Colours” and marks the end of winter. People splash water and powder on each other – red, yellow, blue and green. Each color also carries a meaning. Red symbolizes love and fertility; yellow is the color of turmeric, a powder native to India and used as a natural remedy; blue represents the Hindu God Krishna; and green is for new beginnings.

Holi at heart is the joy of life in India. It is for family and friends, dancing, feasting and celebrating life as only the Indians can.

But looking down on the young university students in Kolkata, I found another secret of Holi. What a wonderful time for young men and women to flirt, and flirt they did. Covered in powder, laughing, taking photos and having a brilliant time.

If you have a chance to be in India during Holi, make sure you go. It will put the joy of India firmly in your heart.

Put “Invest India” on your radar

Looking for the how and why of investing in modern India? The government has created Invest India and their website should be something you visit regularly. It is the best window into a massive pipeline of investment opportunities.

The Invest India site highlights the economic growth story, the young population, rising domestic demand, business friendly governments and rapid infrastructure improvements as just some of the reasons to invest in India.

Is it time to review your India investment and engagement strategies? If not now, when?

5 ways to build business with India

While Australia sees the “Asian Century” as a huge opportunity, we are clearly lagging when it comes to India. Our trade with China is over A$180 billion but with India we are stuck at around A$20 billion – despite massive increases in the education sector.

India is such a difficult place to do business and many commentators take the view that “if you can succeed in India you can succeed anywhere”.

Here are 5 steps we should take to grow our trade ties with India.

Adopt a patient long term view: It is very easy to get MOU’s (Memorandum of Understanding) signed with fanfare in India but too many do not produce any outcome. One way to improve our cultural dexterity would be to take a long term view and apply lots of patience. Businesses should not start out on market entry unless they are prepared to commit at least five years to making it work. Governments need the same longer term perspective. Rushed trade missions, political announcements and photo opportunities amount to very little – we see them as an achievement, but in reality they are just a beginning. Our business executives and even many diplomats do not build patience into their strategies.

Focus on relationships: India is not a short term transaction opportunity – to succeed there needs a longer term focus on building relationships. The first trade meeting in India can be exciting and positive, but from the India side this is just seen as an introduction and they will wait to see if the relationship grows. Even our companies and governments take too short a view when sending people to India – a two or three year stint there is just not enough. Trust and relationship take time. Others prefer to manage the India relationship from offices in Singapore or elsewhere – this is seen by the India side as evidence you are not committed to India.

See beyond the politeness: Indians are among the most courteous and generous hosts on the planet. On top of this, their culture demands that they never provide an outright rejection or “no” statement, even when this is clearly the only answer. To succeed, our businesses and governments need to dig deeper and fine the reality beyond the politeness.  The dumbest question for a business to ask in India is “can you help me with market entry for my products?” The answer will always be “yes” and you will sit idle for a long time back home until you realise this is not the right question.

Adapt to indirect communications: Like most of Asia, Indians are indirect communicators. Problems are rarely addressed directly and unless you have an ear for indirectness, you will miss the warning signs. In addition, indirect communication creates misunderstanding because the Indian side will always have to agree with whatever you may be asking. Our normally blunt Aussie style is misunderstood over there and can give offence – but you will never be told. This is a two way process – understanding they are indirect, and adopting an indirect style if we can. Blunt communicators can be seen as stupid or offensive – or both.

Realise that language and thinking are different: One of the big problems in our relations with India is what makes it seem easy – Indians speak English. As a result, whereas our businesses and government when dealing with China, Japan or any other non-English speaking nation will have interpreters and consultants, in India the use of English creates the illusion that communication is taking place. Yet when we deal with other English speaking nations, we factor in their thinking as well – we know Americans speak English but think differently from Aussies. Our biggest mistake is assuming that Indians think like we do.

These barriers have kept Australia and India apart while seeming to be quite together. Hence it negatively impacts our diplomatic, defence, investment and trade ties. If we can adopt a caring, humble and inquisitive approach – learning cultural dexterity – we will build the relationships which are the key to success.

The 10 mindsets of Indian business leaders

Indian companies are expanding globally, with icons like Jaguar and Land Rover now in Indian hands, and western business executives are going there to gain insights. The real secret of Indian success can be found in ten ways of thinking of Indian business leaders – including the leadership of Ratan Tata (pictured) who made his group a global powerhouse.

Acceptance of change

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Ltd is one of India’s most successful and wealthiest women: “I certainly believe that everything happens with a reason. I wanted to join medical school and when that did not happen I took up biology instead. And that led me to specialise in brewing. However when I was not accepted as a brew master in India, I turned to biotechnology in a very accidental manner. In hindsight, I am grateful that the brewing doors shut on me and I set up Biocon instead!”

Live in the moment, now

Living more in the moment makes India’s business leaders very adaptable and opportunistic – arrive in Mumbai with an idea and no appointments, pretty soon you will be seeing the people at the top.


Ratan Tata epitomises the Tata Group’s success and ethics: “Some foreign investors accuse us of being unfair to shareholders by using our resources for community development. Yes, this is money that could have made for dividend payouts, but it also is money that’s uplifting and improving the quality of life of people in the rural areas where we operate and work.”

Patience, not anger

Of the great texts of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita is an influential part of the education of so many Indian business leaders: “Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered.”

Ethics and respect

My exposure to this began in 2005 when the Chairman and Chief Mentor of Infosys, Narayana Murthy, spoke about corporate governance and morality in business: “We follow one principle – the softest pillow is a clear conscience”.

Problems are a gift

While the west has a fear of things going wrong, in India it is accepted.

The Indian born Lakshmi Mittal, head of Arcelor Mittal: “Everyone experiences tough times, it is a measure of your determination and dedication how you deal with them and how you can come through them.”

Right Words

Ratan Tata expresses his communication style this way: “What I have done is establish growth mechanisms, play down individuals and play up the team that has made the companies what they are. I, for one, am not the kind who loves dwelling on the ‘I’. If history remembers me at all, I hope it will be for this transformation.”

Leaders as gurus

TT Srinivasaraghavan is the Managing Director of Sundaram Finance, a diverse company based in Chennai. TT says that Sundaram is first a family and second, a company. Fundamental to his business is ‘trust’ and what he calls a ‘chain of faith’ that flows from people who trust each other.

Life as a spider web

Indian business leaders know that life is like trying to find your way through a spider web – where does it begin, where does it lead, who can tell? The Bhagavad Gita says: “Better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.”

Leading by not conforming

Thinking of others rather than “profits first” is one way Indian leaders do not conform. Paramahansa Yogananda: “Business life need not be a material life. Business ambition can be spiritualized. Business is nothing but serving others materially in the best possible way.”

Stephen Manallack is a Director of 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. He has just released Communicating Your Personal Brand (Vivid Publications)

Indian PM continues to impress

Brilliant diplomatic and strategic move by Indian PM Modi – he took the unprecedented step of inviting 10 heads of states and governments, from the 10 ASEAN countries, to be chief guests at this year’s Republic Day parade (26 Jan).This is the first time that so many world leaders – from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – will be attending the annual Indian show of its military might and cultural diversity. Modi is one of those rare leaders who genuinely thinks outside the box. For example, despite every expert saying “you will never get a GST in India”, he found a way to get the states on board and now the country has a sensible national taxation in place. When it comes to both diplomacy and serious reforms, PM Modi has the track record in place.

Marvellous Mumbai is on the move!

Modern India moves fast. Mumbai is probably the fastest city. For example – Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said the city will see a transformation in terms of mobility with projects ranging from underground metro and sea bridge to coastal roads, elevated suburban trains and new airports.These include 258 km of metro network in Mumbai and suburban areas, which would be one of the biggest in the country. About 50 km of elevated suburban railway network is being set up.They are also making coastal roads. a new sea link, a sea bridge from Mumbai to New Mumbai, an airport in New Mumbai, an underground metro and – all complete by 2022.

Here’s how modern India is different – in the past such a promise from a Chief Minister would be laughed at by the locals as “never going to happen”. Now, it is happening.–new-Fintech-policy-on$storyes

The “split personality” of western investors when it comes to India

Investors in the west have split personalities when it comes to India – yes, they see India opportunities as incredible, but, no, they choose not to invest there. This is all about to change – my post gives 8 reasons for the change.