7 ways Australia could build relations with India to balance China

While it is true that India is not just another China, there is a good risk management case for improving Australia’s trade and diplomatic relations with India.

To give energy to this relationship, Australia should take eight urgent steps:

(Keep in mind most of this relates to “post-Covid” but some could action now)

First, we should be flat out campaigning to get more Indian tourists down under. They now have the money, and a campaign for tourism would also communicate our culture to the broader Indian public. Let’s get Australia on the billboards, on the cable TV and in the cinemas in India.

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Second, encourage Bollywood to make more films down under and help them show the diversity of the Australian population and culture.

Third, reinforce our intellectual property and leadership in the twin areas of high demand over there – health and education.

Fourth, take more initiatives to exchange knowledge and services in the waste management and waste disposal fields – we are pretty good in this, with some of the cleanest cities in the world, and India is worried that rubbish is taking over their country.

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Fifth, create ways we can work closer on sustainable energy.

Sixth, make sure Indians are aware of our global leadership in fields such as wealth management, a growing need over there. The best way to do this would be to increase our investment into India.

Seventh, provide cultural training to Australians in all fields who are to visit India, so that our blundering around (which we often see as down to earth and friendly) does not continue to cause offence or confusion among our hosts.

Indian startups are driving growth and change

There are many drivers of India’s economic growth and transformation – but certainly punching above their weight are Indian startups.

There were over 50,000 startups in India in 2018.

India has the third largest startup ecosystem in the world.

The success is partly driven by corporate India (which is providing much of the funding) and by the Indian Government policies.

Bengaluru is in the world’s top 20 startup cities and ranks in the top 5 of the “fastest growing”.

Some of the best known Indian startups include Ola Cabs, Snapdeal (e-commerce), OYO (hotels), Swiggy (food delivery), Big Basket (food e-commerce) and BYJU’s (ed tech).

Watch this space.

Can you trade with India without leaving home?

As Covid19 has made us all (Australia, UK, USA, Canada etc) more cautious, we are reluctant to travel.

Add to that a leap in Indian online e-commerce for all kinds of products and services.

Is the future of trade with India digital? Do relationships matter any more?

We have always said that the key to long term success with India is in the careful and gradual development of close working relationships. This has to be done face to face, but these days can be supported via phone and video calls.

Deakin University is the prime example of success through perseverance and relationship building – they have had a presence in India for over 25 years.

Ravneet Pawha has led Deakin in India for most of that time and she is now the Deputy Vice President – Global and CEO – South Asia. She knows everybody in decision making on education in India. Ravneet is a regular promoter of Australia and our education at conferences and in Indian media.

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The Australian citrus industry is taking a closer look at India but their CEO has told members it could take five years to build a market.

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So relationship still matters in dealing with India.

For our diplomacy, we need closer relationships at Indian central and state government levels.

For education, we need to follow the lead of Deakin University and be on the ground over there, building collaborative relationships.

And for products and services, while online is becoming the way of the future, products and services will only become trusted and valued as people have a relationship with your brand.

Australian PM Morrison has been gradually building a closer relationship with India PM Modi and this is producing some progress on agreements and cooperation.

Relationship – it is the way forward with India.

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10 essential tips for doing business with India

Doing business with India? Here are some tips that might help your experience, but keep in mind you will find many variations and contradictions of these points in the very diverse and exciting India market:

The language barrier is real – even English

India has some 26 major languages, but your Indian counterpart will almost certainly speak English, which itself can be a problem – it creates the illusion of communication and understanding. Many of us speak English and think western – your Indian partner speaks English and thinks Indian, so take care to build real understanding. Also keep in mind there are “many Indias” with many different languages and ways of thinking.

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You are in a different culture

Visitors to most of Asia and China are visually reminded all day that they are in a vastly different culture. But often, especially in offices, India can appear quite westernised and individuals also give that impression. Better to open your mind and see things and people more clearly, looking beyond the surface level “westernisation” – exploring cultural differences expands your horizons and you will find many charming similarities.

Be patient and you will get there faster

Adopt a patient long term view – India is a 5 to 10 year game. 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.

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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 they are just a beginning.

Relationships take time – but they are everything

India is a collective culture which means relationships are the number one factor in success, and building relationships takes time. Many who see India as not a short-term transaction opportunity can find success, but not for long as someone with a better price comes along. A better strategy is to aim for longer success through a 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. Trust and relationship take time.

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“Yes” can mean “maybe” or “no”

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. 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. Within Indian culture built so solidly on relationship above all else, the word “no” is a real relationship breaker and is rarely or never used. “Yes” can in fact mean “maybe” or even “no” and you need to look for the signs. Like most of Asia, Indians are indirect communicators.

Prepare for the collective

Most westerners come from a culture of the individual, but the Indians they meet are firmly placed in a collective culture.  A visitor to an Indian company will often find four or five Indians in the meeting, and often it is not clear who is in charge. Many Indian leaders will not speak up or even speak at all in these meetings – in the collective someone else does the talking while they do the evaluating.

It will be slow and fast

Modern India can be slow or fast and it is hard to know which you will encounter. Sometimes delivery seems to take forever, yet on other occasions it is faster than the west. This means to succeed there you need incredible patience, so don’t send your least patient executive to India. Being able to respond positively under both slow and fast delivery is the key.

The visitor can be shocked and unprepared for the speed of modern India. Businesses need to go prepared to deliver on a product or service right now, not just having some idea for a future opportunity. Trade missions from around the world arrive weekly, so they have plenty of choice. Fast and slow, east and west – India is a living and dynamic paradox.

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India is many countries in one

Differences are not just seen in the North, South, East and West, India is truly many countries in one and you need to be ready for cultural diversity. While Mumbai is the fast and flashy financial capital, it is also a tough place because everything is done on grand scale and at great speed. New Delhi is more formal and stuffy, also more liveable, and is more than a political capital – it is a powerful business city. Chennai is one of my favourites, embracing that slower southern pace and the values that shine in southern businesses. Regions have varying strengths, so research is the key. Recent moves to allocate Smart Cities across India can provide insights into alternative gateways for you.

Navigate through the spider web

While the west strives for simplicity and certainty, 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? Consistent with this view, most Indian corporations offer an incredibly diverse range of products and services – whereas western business tends to focus on just one area. In most cases Indian companies are willing to buy from you but are also looking for the deal to include some intellectual property sharing arrangements – think about these before you head over there.

Learn the art of flexibility and patience

Being patient and flexible is an asset, even if you come from a country that likes to be blunt, direct and structured. Most Indian communication is indirect, so it can take some time to work out what the real issues are. India is full of surprises and you cope best through being flexible. Dropping any “one rule for all” approach is a good start.

If you are thinking of going, India’s great thinker Rabindranath Tagore can be your inspiration: “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

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India offered flexibility on RCEP – the world’s biggest trading bloc

RCEP – the initials that describe potentially the world’s biggest trading bloc.

RCEP needs India back – it walked out during earlier negotiations.

To urge India back to the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), its 15 member countries have offered New Delhi the option of deferring commitments related to opening up its market.

Reports on the RCEP move come on the eve of online discussions between Indian PM Modi and Australian PM Morrison. I hope they can advance the talks.

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The move was reported in The Hindu Business Line.

According to some diplomatic sources, the deferral means that India does not need to worry about RCEP’s impact on the broadening of its trade deficit with China and other member countries when it signs the RCEP agreement.

India quit talks with the RCEP — which includes the 10-member ASEAN, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand — in November 2019, as it could not agree on crucial issues including the level of market opening being demanded by the members, especially China.

“If India agrees to the package then it can enjoy the benefits of all other aspects of the RCEP pact such as investments, services and intellectual property rights, without having to worry about the fate of industry and farmers,” the diplomat further said.

The RCEP, once completed, could be the largest trading bloc in the world, accounting for 45 per cent of the world’s population and 40 per cent of world trade.

 

 

Stop seeing India through the lens of someone else’s trade war

Things get a bit biased in the west, and right now China is seen by politicians as a negative – even if most western economies rely on China trade.

The mythology from politicians is that their country – including Australia – should look at “diversifying” trade targets away from China.

Thinking of India as an “alternative” to China is a bit disrespectful of India and setting up for failure. Seeing India for what it is – a really good opportunity but on a different scale to China – will lead to better commercial and political decisions.

Let’s not look at India through the lens of someone else’s “trade wars”.

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When it comes to the world, China is the big game. India and Indonesia are also in the game and worth playing with, but each needs to be respected for what it is.

Take the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper which reported that growth in demand through to 2030 from China would be greater than that from the US, Japan, India and Indonesia combined. China’s rapidly expanding middle-class market is the big market.

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Even the Peter Varghese report on India’s potential showed that by 2035, Australia might export $45 billion of products and services to India. That would be great news! But compare that figure of $45 billion (and it’s 15 years off) with last year when Australia exported more than $160 billion to China.

When we remove the blinkers of politics, we can treat each country with respect and see the actual opportunity they represent.

We can open our eyes to a better view of trade – seeing it as part of the overall relationship of friendship with trading partners.

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Indian PM Modi announces A$400 billion stimulus policy

Indian prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a A$400 billion stimulus package, one of the biggest in the world’s responses to Covid19.

The package is approximately 10% of India’s GDP.

The stimulus package is called “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan” and aims to make India self reliant and to revive the stalled economy.

Details are still coming out but part of the program will be major reforms across areas such as land, labour and liquidity laws to underpin a boost to the “Make in India” campaign.

Other areas will likely include supply chain for agriculture, reforms to national taxation, simplification of some laws, build capable human resources and strengthening the financial system.

It is typical Modi – ambitious, unexpected in magnitude and investors are already reacting with enthusiasm.

Asia Society doing great things to connect Australia with India and beyond

Very good news for my hometown Melbourne and our State of Victoria.

Manoj Kohli, Country Head of SoftBank India, SoftBank Group International, was appointed the second Asia Society-Victoria Distinguished Fellow in May 2020.

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Asia Society Australia-Victoria Distinguished Fellowship is a partnership between Asia Society Australia and the Victorian Government to bring the best minds and ideas from Asia and Australia to Victoria. It aims to generate new ideas and promote greater economic, strategic and cultural connectivity between Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The Fellowship will showcase the state of Victoria as Australia’s centre of excellence for Asia insights and capabilities.

The Asia Business Taskforce

On Friday 5 October 2019, the Business Council of Australia and Asia Society Australia announced the formation of an Asia taskforce of senior leaders from the business, education and government sectors to examine how Australian companies and organisations can increase their presence and position in Asia to ensure our continued prosperity and deliver progress for future generations.

The Asia Business Taskforce is chaired by Mark van Dyck, Managing Director (Asia-Pacific), Compass Group, and co-led by Jennifer Westacott, CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Philipp Ivanov, CEO Asia Society Australia, and Andrew Parker, Asia Practice Leader and Partner at PwC.

The taskforce examines how Australia can build and enhance its position with the powerhouse Asian economies in our proximity, diversify our economic partners, and prepare for a more strategically and economically competitive region.

Throughout 2020, the taskforce aims to delivering a series of policy recommendations to government.

These are two brilliant programs of the Asia Society here in Australia.

 

The 7 ways business and brand can thrive in Industry 4.0

The world is moving quickly into a new era known as Industrial Revolution 4.0 and business brands will have to adapt. This will be our biggest challenge “after coronavirus”.

We have already seen Tata Consulting Services (TCS) shake the world of work by announcing a target of 75% or its 450,000 workers operating from home or remotely by 2025. Others will have to follow.

The fourth industrial revolution sees at least ten major changes, each reinforcing the other so that how we do business and how we work will be totally transformed. The first three industrial revolutions were each about only one change – steam, electricity and computers.

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Companies will need to be nimble and honest about the status of their brand – the immediate future can either build or destroy your brand credibility. Here are my 7 tips for thriving as a brand in Industry 4.0:

  1. Show your company can continue to learn

Having a “we want to keep learning” brand is highly desirable for the market, clients and future employees. Audit your brand communication – does it show the organisation is curious, reading and listening widely, entering staff and customers into discussion groups and a genuine “learning organisation”.

  1. SECOND – Demonstrate wisdom and common sense

Your clients look for more than knowledge from you – they want a brand that demonstrates common sense. The best way to describe the difference is through the humble tomato – knowledge tells you a tomato is a fruit (not a vegetable) – but common sense prevents you adding the tomato to a fruit salad. Making sure your senior people have mentors can help their levels of common sense.

  1. THREE – Gain good collaboration and friendship skills

Industrial 4.0 will make collaboration easy and instant with anyone, anywhere and anytime – and the change will benefit those businesses that have the skills to reach out, make friends, work across the globe and build collaboration. It is worthwhile evaluating how much you are seen as a collaborative partner.

  1. FOUR – Build cross-border understanding and skills

Already our lives in one country are intersecting with lives of other countries, and Industrial 4.0 will make the globe an even smaller place. Those who have travelled, who have acquired both knowledge and experience of other cultures will be in high demand, simply because almost every job will have global aspects. Prepare your employees via cross cultural training and global exposure.

  1. FIVE – Make everyone an outstanding communicator

Traditional “soft skills” training will not prepare your team for the fast future – outstanding communication skills for Industrial 4.0 will include rapid pitching, ability to support points in a way which moves others, skills to relate directly and closely with those above and below you. The irony is that as the technology impacts even more, it is the brands that communicate well who will succeed.

  1. SIX – Be known as team-based problem solvers

More work will be team-based, and a powerful brand characteristic is being “team-based problem solvers”. Do your problem-solving teams include members from other companies? Should you offer clients and customers a role?

  1. SEVEN – Build self-reliance and resilience

With the pace of change, your people will need to be more self-reliant and resilient. Life will present challenges almost constantly. Make sure your people can cope, because that reflects in your brand being a steady and trusted delivery sources. When staff lose resilience, your brand is also diminished.

Stephen Manallack is the author of four books, including one published in India (“Soft Skills for a Flat World”, Tata McGraw-Hill India), a speaker on communication and is delivering a series of webinars on Industry 4.0 for Indian and Australian universities. He is a blogger at Into India and regular visitor to India. EMAIL stephen@manallack.com.au

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How to thrive in Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 will power ahead after Covid19, bringing massive change – an Oxford study estimates that 47% of the jobs in the US, 69% of the jobs in India and 77% of the jobs in China will not exist in 25 years – such is the pace of change under Industry 4.0.

How will you thrive? Whether mid-career, just beginning or at university, here are some ways to make yourself adaptable for Industry 4.0:

  1. Show you can continue to learn

We know employers’ value this very highly – their focus is not on what you know through your degree – but is more on what you can learn in future. Prepare for this by being curious, reading and listening widely, entering discussion groups and being able to summarise what you have learned outside of university or since your degree.

  1. Demonstrate wisdom and common sense

For employers, further than what you know is how you think, and the value of wisdom and common sense. The best way to describe the difference between knowledge and wisdom is through the humble tomato – knowledge tells you a tomato is a fruit (not a vegetable) – but wisdom prevents you adding the tomato to a fruit salad. One fast track to wisdom is via mentors and guides, those who can share experience with you at whatever level you currently are.

  1. Gain good collaboration and friendship skills

Industrial 4.0 will make collaboration easy and instant with anyone, anywhere and anytime – and the change will benefit those who have the skills to reach out, make friends, work across the globe and build collaboration. Future corporations and employers will be looking for people who can build collaboration.

  1. Gain cross-border understanding and skills

Already our lives in one country are intersecting with lives of other countries, and Industrial 4.0 will make the globe an even smaller place. Those who have travelled, who have acquired both knowledge and experience of other cultures will be in high demand, simply because almost every job will have global aspects.

  1. Become an outstanding communicator

Traditional “soft skills” training will not prepare students for the fast future – outstanding communication skills for Industrial 4.0 will include rapid pitching, ability to support points in a way which moves others, skills to relate directly and closely with those above and below you – any student sitting back quietly as a “newbie” will get left behind. Old notions of being silent in front of elders or superiors will not apply. Respectful and strong communication skills will rule.

  1. Be a team-based problem solver

More work will be team-based and some of those who succeed will actually present to future employers as a team. Problem solving as a team while at university should lead students to then approach employers as teams – a good standout in the race to gain attention.

  1. Build self-reliance and resilience

As jobs come and go, individuals will need to be able to bounce back and start again, maybe many times in their careers. Where no jobs are forthcoming, graduates will need to create their own or join teams that provide solutions.

Work on these skills so you can thrive during Industry 4.0