Indian PM Modi meets with US President Biden in the White House recently
There has been a lot of talk recently about India becoming part of some formal military alliance with the US – in response to the rise and actions of China.
But is this likely?
Here are 10 key differences in the world view of India and the USA
New Delhi is wary that any formal alliance with the US could draw it into almost constant military activity such as the Iraq war
India prefers to do its own strategic deals on a country by country basis – rather than manage these through a dominant US strategic alliance. For example, India and Australia have a Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement allowing each to uses each other’s bases
Historically India has never agreed to open-ended commitments that might lead to future military involvement
Of the four countries speculated to be invited to join the Five Eyes security arrangement (the four are Germany, India, South Korea and Japan) – India is the only one of these four to NOT have a treaty alliance with the US
An example of differences between India and the US is Iran and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) – the US attacks Iran on the nuclear issue, sees the NPT as something to be enforced – but India has not signed the NPT itself and sees it as discriminatory
There are differences on the “threat” from China – the US is most assertive on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea while India has been quite reserved on this issue
India is more concerned about its Himalayan border conflicts with China than the South China Sea
India generally has little or nothing to say about human rights issues in other countries. Whereas the US and its allies such as the UK and Australia are constantly calling out human rights abuses around the world
The US wants “all in” commitment from allies but India has always been non-aligned and refuses to get drawn into “us versus them” views of the world. One current example is India is finalising a logistics deal with the UK while also negotiating a similar deal with Russia
India is content to be “the world’s biggest democracy” but is not evangelical about it, accepting that all countries are different – a sharp contrast to the US wanting to remake countries in its own image and championing democracy for all
Art of Living – quick, simple program for happiness in tough times
A program from India that is being used at Yale University and many other American universities to improve wellbeing of students – is coming to Australia online.
Starting on 30 September, this short Pan Australia Happiness Program will be held in the Presence of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who creating the breathing technique that changes lives. INTO INDIA has been doing this program for many years and loves the energy and simplicity of it.
This is a super simple, quick and unbelievably powerful way to have a good day!
If you are feeling alone.
If covid is dominating your mind.
If your breathing is shallow.
If you feel anxiety and stress.
Step in and join a big and strong group of like-minded people who believe in contributing and creating waves of happiness, sharing, and caring that are so much required right now.
Most Indians continue to live in joint families – your business host might be the same so be curious about their life and culture
When a company sends a salesperson into the Indian market, the goal is to fill the order book as quickly as possible – there is no time for that person to build ongoing relationships.
The result at best is a quick transaction based on price.
It rarely lasts.
India is a country where relationships drive and impact all aspects of business. That is “how they do things there” and expect us to be the same.
Some tips for relationship building in these tough times:
You can build good relationships during Covid by hosting a zoom or similar catchup to see how things are going – no big agenda, share experiences and listen.
You can join groups and chambers and be seen as a player.
You can accept the intangibility of relationships and give your key executives time and resources to build them.
You can look up Indian culture, architecture and history so you can have informal conversations about things close to their heart.
You will need strong curiosity and listening skills.
Really, decisions about future business with India need to be C-Suite and Boardroom driven, based around a minimum three-year strategy. And giving your people the right to spend time on the intangible of relationships is the best first step.
Tata Sons Pvt Chairman, Mr. Natarajan Chandrasekaran, recently stated that the pandemic has transformed the nature of how employees and organisations work and boosted the adoption of digital technologies.
It is also driving a hybrid model where work broadens beyond offices and employs more women.
This signals a future where workplaces offer staff greater flexibility, while leveraging technology.
Last year the groups IT consultancy, Tata Consultancy Services, announced the aim to have only a fourth of its employees working from office on any given day by 2025.
Mr. Chandrasekaran said, “Let us not limit ourselves to only home and office when it is the hybrid model that has work. There might be a ‘satellite office’, a concept of third place, that could emerge in future.”
Mr. Chandrasekaran stated, in India’s situation, it could also witness advanced workplace diversity (employment of women), another positive result of a hybrid model.
He added, “Only 23% of women who could be possibly working are employed due to challenges such as the lack of social infrastructure, commuting, etc. We should leverage this potential opportunity to grow and expand.”
Austrade’s Ashley Brosnan has the stats and facts at his fingertips and he is certainly bullish on the future of India:
No longer just ‘rising’, India is now a significant and influential global player. India has recorded strong economic growth over the past 4 decades to become world’s third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).
Following the pandemic, rapid growth is set to resume. The Indian economy is projected to expand by an average annual real rate of 5.8% from 2021–2040, which is faster than the global average and the average for the Asia-Pacific region.
My Swami Vivekananda blog continues to gain reactions – he shows us how rich, diverse and deep is Indian culture and thought. He was the multitalented, multifaceted teacher, Hindu monk and spiritual guru, born in 1863. With his extremely popular and respected speeches of all times starting with “Brothers and sisters of America”, he introduced Hinduism at the parliament of world religions in Chicago way back in 1893.
Through study of his quotes, we can gain special insight into the cultural (thinking) differences between India and the west.
This learning comes with no judgement, no sense of one culture being better than another – it is offered in the spirit of understanding.
SV – “Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.”
This goes to the heart of cultural difference – the west treats truth as an “absolute”, meaning there is no room for difference or “relative” truth as stated in India.
This can show up in business activity, where the westerner sees the plan as fixed and set in concret(absolute), while the Indian sees it as just a plan, capable of change (relative).
SV – “All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind.”
Here the west takes a materialist and scientific view of knowledge, seeing the role of the mind to gain knowledge from the external world.
SV – “Bless people when they revile you. Think how much good they are doing by helping to stamp out the false ego.”
In the individualistic culture of the west, from a young age we are trained to “stand up for ourselves” so the likely response from a westerner when reviled is to defend or even to attack. “The best form of defence is attack” is a common western phrase.
SV – “Things do not grow better; they remain as they are. It is we who grow better, by the changes we make in ourselves.”
This internal view is very different from the west, where growing better is generally reflected in possessions, honours and achievements – in external things.
SV – “The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.”
The big picture view of the world from the west is that it was put here for our benefit – so use it. At its worst, this has led to pollution and climate change. At its best, it is the basis of many innovations that benefit us all.
SV – “Do one thing at a Time, and while doing it put your whole soul into it to the exclusion of all else.”
Multi-tasking has been highly fashionable in the west for decades and technology is the great enabler of it. But when you see a person totally focused on one task, you see how effective we humans can be.
SV – “All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.”
The concept of “oneness” is very foreign and strange to many westerners. They see differences as being of kind, and view the world through the lens of the individual, which is the opposite of “oneness”.
SV – “We are what our thoughts have made us. So, take care about what you think. Words are secondary, thoughts live and travel far.”
Thoughts are seen in the west as a totally private thing and secondary to what we do and say. Without words, a westerner could view thoughts as a waste of time.
SV –“Neither seek nor avoid, take what comes.”
This is a remarkably different view of life from how the west sees it. A westerner will strongly seek to either possess the attractive that comes or repel the negative that comes. In other words, far from “acceptance”, westerners take an activist approach to whatever life presents. It’s like a constant struggle.
SV – “In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart.”
“Think it through” is a much repeated piece of western advice, where the brain is given vast superiority over the heart.
SV – “The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”
For many westerners this is a strange concept. Happiness is seen as something the individual must find and keep for themselves. Many would see virtue in sharing and being unselfish, but they would see it as folly to be “perfectly unselfish”.
The above are just my interpretations – offered in the hope that they give useful understanding of cultural differences. We can learn from each other. What do you think?
COVID-19 makes everything happen faster – and using “owned media” is on the rise. Of course, with Covid-19 dominating all traditional media, opportunities for “earned media” have declined. On top of that, major media is shrinking the numbers of journalists.
Add technology to this mix and you have a big change for PR.
India is leading this change in the PR mix.
Kunal Kishore, founder director -Value 360 Communications makes a prediction – “Previously earned media made up the majority of external communications. In the future there will be a good balance on earned and owned media for brands. This balance could be 70-30 or even 60 -40 (Majority going to earned media).”
PR firms in India have been alert to this shift and many are hiring aggressively from journalism for this shift to “owned content”.
One of the leading innovators in this PR shift is Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited, who says: “Consumers today prefer to have a direct channel of dialogue with brands, there is also sadly a shrinking trust in media channels due to the fake and paid news. The issue of authenticity and the blurring lines between earned content and paid content has resulted in activating a sense of ‘ad-blocking’ in the minds of consumers.”
Patil describes “owned media” as a slow burn process.
“The key aspect of any communication strategy is to generate awareness and engagement amongst the existing and potential audience of the brand. While earned, paid and social media are mediums to do this, essentially, they offer lesser control on the narrative.
”Owned media gives brands the opportunity to share stories creatively with their customers, and vice-versa albeit with more control…it builds a bridge between customers and brands to engage with each other more experientially, authentically and effectively.”
Kunal Kishore makes the point that “owned media” was always important. Brands were using it reach their end stakeholders even before.
”For example, Lufthansa worked with TiE to create a start-up symposium to communicate with entrepreneurs. After COVID-19, this has become multifold. Discovery of content by brands has become very important, and they have discovered that a digital footprint travels”.
Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, chief executive officer, Ideosphere says, “In today’s post-COVID digital world, established brands as well as emerging businesses are finding the first opportunity in owned media to not only reach out to the external world, but also bring their internal teams together, spark engagement, and fuel collaborative innovation in remote, omni-present work environments.”
Partha Ghosh, vice president and head, corporate communications, Samsung India & South West Asia commented that, “The pandemic has transformed the way people are consuming media, with a definitive shift towards digital. During this period, brands have developed great appreciation for owned media as a platform to tell unique and authentic stories to consumers and other external stakeholders.”
Examples of Owned Media PR driven properties
Sujit Patil explains the thinking and impact of the PR led property Godrej L’Affaire, In the last four years it has grown as a strong community and platform that brings together brands, influencers and customers. The platform provides experiences in all things’ lifestyle – food, fashion, travel, music and wellness.
“We launched it as over 7 our businesses and many brands at Godrej are in the lifestyle space. Making the platform brand agnostic (meaning external non-competing brands in the lifestyle space also made a part of the platform) has actually helped create a positive rub-off on smaller brands,” according to Patil.
Nandita Lakshmanan, CEO, The PRactice says, “We believe we will see more clients who will recognize the value of owned assets like resource portals, blogs, newsletters, magazines, podcasts, video channels, documentaries, short films. For example, for a real estate client, we decided to focus on LinkedIn and blogs as well as launched a podcast series, while focusing on the work they did with their foundation.”
Getting Owned Media Right
Patil says the theory of gate-keepers of journalism is offset in owned media with the theory of RECCE (Relevance, Engagement, Content, Community, Experience). Since the customer experience and brand ethos are the core of owned media platforms, it pushes brands to create Relevancy among its target consumers to drive Engagement using interesting Content which eventually leads to Community building through Experience (RECCE).
Kishore suggests organisations should be alert to the quality of content, the credibility and authority of the person sharing the content, transparency, interactivity, listening and curating content.
Australia has damaged its reputation as a location for international students. This damage is partly due to government action and partly due to our universities.
The damage can be repaired but we will have to start now.
What went wrong?
First, international students were caught in a double whammy – they could not qualify for Job Keeper or Job Seeker – and many could not “go home” because of border closures. That means they were stuck in Australia with no money.
The Australian Prime Minister’s messaging made matters worse, suggesting that those unable to support themselves should “make [their] way home”.
Second, a quarter experienced verbal racist abuse and a quarter reported people avoiding them because of their appearance. More than half of Chinese respondents reported experiencing either or both of these.
These were the findings of a nationwide survey of 6,105 international students and other temporary migrants conducted in July – finding that 70% lost all or most of their work during the pandemic, while thousands have been left unable to pay for food and rent.
A report from UNSW Law Associate professor Bassina Farbenblum and UTS Law Associate professor Laurie Berg – co-directors of the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative – revealed more than half of survey respondents (57%) believe their financial stress will deepen by year’s end.
“Over 16,00 participants described being targeted with xenophobic slurs, treated as though they were infected with Covid-19 because they looked Asian, or harassed for wearing a face mask”, said Farbenblum.
It is a disaster for Australia – three in five international students, graduates and working holidaymakers said they are now less likely or much less likely to recommend Australia as a place to study or have a working holiday.
It is time for Australian universities and Governments to repair the damage.
Pictured above is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
I am often asked about India’s democracy – most people know of India as “the world’s biggest democracy” but few know the structure of it. Here is a short summary:
The Republic of India is a federal democracy comprising 28 states and nine union territories. The Head of State is the President and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister – currently PM Narendra Modi.
The Indian Parliament is bicameral, comprising the 545-member Lok Sabha (‘people’s’ or lower house) and the 245-member Rajya Sabha (‘states’ or upper house). Lok Sabha members are elected by universal adult suffrage every five years (except for two appointed Anglo-Indian members) using the ‘first past the post’ voting system. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one third of its members retire every second year. One third of Rajya Sabha members are elected every two years by the legislative assemblies of the Indian states.
BJP is the current Government
The 2019 Indian national election for the Lok Sabha saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win a second consecutive term with 303 out of 543 seats.