Does India have a different world view?

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?

What do you think?

Some of the best “corporate storytelling” is coming out of India

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.

Thought Leadership

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!

Visual storytelling

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.

Content Overload

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’

Contact TIC

For more on how TIC can support your communication objectives, just drop a message on enquiry@ticworks.com. Or better still, call at +91 842 581 4016 / 17.

https://www.ticworks.com/

Wow! India Australia trade deal much bigger than we thought

These two Ministers are transforming the Australia-India relationship

Wow! The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement signed yesterday is a whopper.

Get on the plane now if you are in business or education! The trade and investment doors are open for you.

The two trade ministers, Australian Dan Tehan and Indian Piyush Goyal, are transforming the economic relationship and created a platform for decades of growth for India and Australia. Well done.

READ MORE DETAIL HERE:

https://www.trademinister.gov.au/minister/dan-tehan/media-release/historic-trade-deal-india

Well done on Modi deals, Scott Morrison – he “gets” India

Australian PM Scott Morrison at the virtual talks yesterday with Indian PM Modi.

In a meeting yesterday with Indian PM Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, cemented ties with India in a series of deals worth almost A$190 million. He gets (understands) India.

PM Modi is an “investment magnet”, but is also strongly wary of “multilateral” groupings and has a preference to do deals country by country.

So, PM Morrison did a country by country deal. He used some of the western rhetoric over Russia, Ukraine and China, but then got stuck into business.

What is there to “get” about India that matters in our region?

First, it wants investment.

Second, it stays away from promoting democracy as the ONLY future, instead seeing all countries as different and many having different forms of government – all accepted by India.

Third, it now buys most of its defence hardware from Russia and has a long standing close relationship with them.

Fourth, it wants to be in the QUAD (Australia, Japan, USA and India) but will only play on its own terms – that is, not condemning others and not championing democracy as the only solution.

Fifth, Modi is riding high, and he has numbers to back it up – India is the world’s fastest growing economy in 2020. You have to “get” his confidence levels, which are high.

Sixth, India is keen for more Indians to have access to Australia and to work here – PM Morrison “gets” this, and it was significant that the Monday night talks also included a taskforce to see if both countries could recognise the same education qualifications.

Seventh, India has a proud culture and history, feels rightly that much has been plundered by the west – so it was highly important that the National Gallery of Australia formalised the return of artefacts to India.

Future challenges?

There are plenty. The CECA (free trade deal) will soon announce “early harvest” deals and then plans to complete a full CECA some time this year. Good luck with that – especially as our own Aussie negotiators have always been averse to cherry picking. I think PM Morrison gets the need for flexibility and hope he is challenging his bureaucrats to do the same.

Relying more on our High Commission staff in Delhi would be a good step as we have outstanding people there.

But by and large, finally, it seems Australia is “getting” India.

Tata Sons chief to chair Air India

Natarajan Chandrasekaran

Mumbai-headquartered Tata Sons Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran has been appointed as the chairman of Air India, media reports said on Monday.

Tata Sons recently acquired debt-laden, state-run Air India in what was a homecoming for the airline that was founded by the Tatas in 1932 as Tata Airlines before being nationalised in 1953.

Tata Group is a huge conglomerate and the “jewel in the crown” is Tata Consulting Services (TCS). No doubt Air India will soon be a leader too.

Read more here:

https://www.peoplematters.in/news/appointments/tata-sons-chief-n-chandrasekaran-appointed-as-chairman-of-air-india-33178?fbclid=IwAR3uA8HLkv5ztTkA0hTpqelJefh8gr4mMDxMToDr6liS40atJFPIo_J4PCM

Understanding India’s neutrality on Russia and Ukraine

Russia’s Putin meets with India’s Modi in 2018 – Russia has consistently supported India over Pakistan and China

India has taken a lot of criticism for not joining in global criticism of Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

In the drama of conflict, few take time to think – but India perhaps deserves you taking a moment to reflect on why it has taken a neutral stance.

At the very centre of India’s position is that in face of border challenges with China, it needs its defence partnership with Russia to continue.

Interesting that almost all western leaders recognise this strategic dilemma.

India is an important part of the move to balance China in the Indo-Pacific, so it is vital to understand their position.

Few are aware that for all of its democratic and independent life, India has been very close to Russia. It is a long standing relationship.

India is now the only Quad country to have not called Russia out by its name let alone by imposing economic sanctions.

But the other three nations in the Quad know that India’s defence relationship with Russia could be described as its “most valued partnership”, as a recent Lowy Institute paper put it.

How important is Russia to India?  A whopping 86% of Indian military hardware is of Russian origin – and this hardware is central to India’s ability to stand up to China over longstanding territorial disputes.

In 2018, India signed a US$5 billion deal with Russia to buy the S-400 missile defence system. Trump warned India that it might impose sanctions – so far, no sanctions have arisen.

And don’t forget Russia has been the only country to support India over decades of problems with Pakistan. In 1971 when India and Pakistan fought for 13 days, Russia was the only country to help India – no western country provided support. The USA ignored Delhi’s please for help over East Pakistan as it then was.

You could see this as an “over reliance” on Russia, but don’t forget it has been close to Russia since the first Prime Minister Nehru took office – and it is only recently that it has become involved closely with countries like the USA, Japan and Australia.

India’s position on Russia and problems with China were somewhat challenged by the recent Russia-China joint statement, pledging that “there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation”. India is no doubt seeking to understand what this means – and in such a fast changing environment, is even more unlikely to call our Russia over Ukraine.

With the brutality and horror of the war on Ukraine now clearly visible, whether India will change its neutrality stance remains to be seen.

But hopefully the above information has helped you understand India’s position.

Can Indian Ocean nations move towards OPTIMISM and away from fear and negativity?

Could the nations of the Indian Ocean region combine to put their focus on OPTIMISM as a replacement for rampant negativity, fear politics and division?

What a contrast this would be to the so-called “Indo-Pacific Region” which seems to have one negative driver – containment of China.

Debate has started in Australia which “needs a new narrative and new thinking from the top,” according to the Centre for Optimism which has released a six-point plan for government and industry to adopt to boost their capabilities with a positive, uplifting mindset and optimistic leadership focused on collaboration, participation, and transparency.

What is wrong with the current narrative?

The Centre’s founder Victor Perton said the current national narrative is framed in old behaviours – state-federal squabbling over policy and service responsibility, hand-outs addressing market failures, institutional inertia, and short-run responses to crises.

I would add that our politicians are disconnected, use fear and manipulate the electorate through division and hostility.

The World Economic Forum recently warned its members, including Australia, that the contemporary “lack of optimism could create a vicious cycle of disillusionment and social unrest.”

Mr. Perton said that with Australia coming out of COVID lockdowns, people’s lives have changed, and people expect their governments to learn the lessons too. “They want positivity, not an aggressive fear-driven narrative,” he said.

Victor Perton was a Victorian MP for 18 years, a former Victorian Government’s Commissioner to the Americas, and the Federal Government’s Senior Engagement Adviser for the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit of Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors.

The six (6) point-plan proposed to government and political leaders is:

Collaboration – as a primary goal – Federal Cabinet should create a National Collaboration Commission to exist alongside the ACCC and National Competition Council.

Vision focus – Government Agencies should establish teams in each Department whose core purpose is to develop a vision, a long-run view of the future.

Active community engagement – through the establishment of citizen juries, in which citizens can assess policies, or plans that are either prospective, or already in place.

Reframe measurement (evaluation) – Replace the preoccupation with GDP and introduce a new Optimism indicator…increasing attention on (a) volunteerism, (b) community engagement, (c) non-market work, (d) care for disadvantaged segments, (e) satisfaction with life, and (f) confident and optimistic outlooks.

Reframe economic development – Move from a focus on size of Government to broader based policies. This to include policies on care and health sectors, innovation, education, green capabilities, and supporting them through “needs clusters”. This would involve the establishment of more public-private partnerships and socially responsible funds, including social impact funding.

Broader institutional change – The inclusion of Opposition party members in the National Cabinet to promote bipartisanship and a collective long-term view on national issues which have been clearly delineated, such as those covering climate change and immigration. The Cabinet would have pre-determined flexibility to add issues or remove them from the agenda.

Is this the optimism lens we need?

I think so, and am keen to hear your views and ideas.

https://www.centreforoptimism.com/AustraliaPositiveNarrative/

India sets world record for longest tunnel above 10,000 feet

Atal Tunnel – recently opened by Indian PM Narendra Modi – is the world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet according to the World Book of Records. 

The tunnel carries a lot of importance strategically as it is 9.02 kilometres long which runs under the ‘Rohtang Pass’ and was constructed on the Manali–Leh highway.

It reduced the travel time by four to five hours and have reduced the distance on Manali–Sarcha road by 46 km. Lt General Mr. Rajeev Chaudhry, Director General of the Border Roads Organisation (DGBR), was honoured for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO’s) outstanding performance in establishing this engineering marvel connecting Manali and the Lahaul-Spiti Valley.

Time to take another look at modern India?

Are QUAD cracks showing? My article in India’s News18

India at the QUAD was being squeezed more than a little by the USA wanting the QUAD to condemn Russia over Ukraine. Russia is a long-standing friend of India (since 1947 independence).

And behind the scenes there are questions about the commitment of the USA to the region and specifically to South East Asia and the Indian Ocean.

The four QUAD countries (India, Australia, Japan and USA) are closer than ever before and doing positive things in supply chains, emergency relief and vaccines for poor countries.

But, are the cracks beginning to show?

My article in India’s biggest media group, Network 18 News:

https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/cracks-in-quad-are-showing-from-doubts-over-us-pledge-to-indo-pacific-to-differences-over-ukraine-4763273.html

Indian Budget 2022 – 6 takeaways

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman delivers the 2022 Indian Budget

Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has delivered the 2022 Indian Budget – here are my 6 takeaways:

India is the fastest-growing large economy

At 9.2% for 2021-2022, India’s GDP growth will be the fastest of all the large economies.

Launching a digital currency

Indian minister’s 2022 budget speech focused on various incentives to boost India’s digital economy, including the launch of a digital rupee within 2022. Minister Sitharaman noted that the central bank digital currency will “give a big boost to the digital economy and lead to a more efficient and cheaper currency management system.”

India is going green

Calling climate change one of the highest external risks facing the country and the green economy a sunrise economy, the finance minister presented multiple proposals and pathways to climate action across different sectors. These include raising climate finance and developing greener public transportation.

Emphasizing inclusive development

The pandemic financially hurt millions of Indian families and analysts have warned against the threat of growing inequality amidst the pandemic. Prime Minister Modi’s government has, since 2014, laid a strong focus on citizen empowerment. India 2022 budget aims to expand its support for Indians, particularly vulnerable groups such as girls, women, senior citizens and farmers. The budget expands social welfare support, while economically empowering marginalised groups through job creation.

Expanding education and mental health care

The pandemic has meant that many Indian school children have lost up to 2 years of valuable schooling. Major educational programs include expanded digital tools for schools in remote regions.

In a significant move, Minister Sitharaman announced the launch of a National Tele-Mental Health Programme, which, built around 23 core health centres, will provide citizens with access to quality mental health counselling and care services.

But Covid is the big concern this year

With a new growth in Covid numbers, there is growing concern that the pandemic could hit India big again this year and could impact the budget numbers.