5 essential tips for doing business with India in 2022

Generation change is seen in shopping malls across India

Growing at around 9 per cent this year, India is well on track to be number 3 or 4 economy in the world. It is also one of the youngest countries on earth – with around 50% of the population aged under 25. Demand outstrips supply – for everything.

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:

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, 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. Pune is sophisticated and a major player across many sectors. Bengaluru is technology but much more as well. Regions have varying strengths, so research is the key.

Market entry strategies should think longer term

India is looking for more than a quick sale – it looks to build relationships and create trust that can last a lifetime. India is what we call a “collective” culture – everything is done within the group and if you make it into the group, you will make it there. This means your first venture should probably not be to send the sales and business development team over there is search of deals. Rather, lead from the top to create relationships – deals will follow.

Find your local Indian team and culture

Companies that have tried to impose their Head office teams and cultures on India operations rarely succeed. A priority should be to identify Indians who can lead locally – with your support. Accepting that the corporate culture might not be an exact mirror of your HQ culture is also vital – with care and guidance over time, your Indian operations will reflect key elements of central culture but will bring added value too.

“Yes” can mean “maybe” or “no”

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. If that is not complex enough, consider that India has 26 major languages.

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.

Indian consumers going online

More good news! Consider Bangladesh – which for many symbolises everything wrong with the world – take another look

Literacy in Bangladesh jumped from 35% to 74%

Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, for many people in the west is a symbol of everything wrong with the unequal world.

But take another look.

It celebrated a ‘development miracle’ in 2021, its 50th year of independence. In the last three decades, GDP per capita has increased seven fold, 24 million people have been lifted out of poverty, life expectancy has risen to 73 years, infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen by a factor of five, the literacy rate has increased from 35% to 74%, and more than 97% of the population now has access to electricity, up from 62% in 2014.

Worth going over that again – it is genuine good news.

Yes, it’s already time to revisit your “new year resolutions”!

We are now a few weeks into 2022 so this is a good time to revisit your “new year resolutions” and perhaps take a different view.

This is from a friend and colleague Debashish Chatterjee who is a Director of Indian Institute of Management in Kozhikode, India:

3 Unusual Insights for 2022

#1. We begin the year with resolutions. They are often a laundry list of personal desires. A desire is an energy formation. When your desires are woven around a web personal pleasures, the energy they receive comes from your ego. This energy is limited. When your desires are for the greater good, the whole universe supports your desires. Enhance the circumference of your desires, you are bound to succeed.

#2. You do not have a busy life. You only have a busy mind. The world out there is nothing but a projection of the mind. Slow down the mind. Your world will transform around you. You will begin to see things that you had overlooked earlier. You will fumble less and create more.

#3. That which has a beginning also has an end. This was Buddha’s insight into the impermanence of life. Begin with the end in mind. Ask where are my actions and thoughts eventually leading me?

From INTO INDIA and Debashish, have a great 2022!

Happy New Year and a tolerant, multicultural future

A significant majority of people in wealthy countries now believe that having people of different ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds improves society.

In the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan, 8 out of 10 people believe greater diversity is a benefit, and even in relatively culturally homogenous countries like Japan and Greece, the share has increased by double digits in the last four years.

Source – Future Crunch

Indians are among lots of reasons to love Melbourne

Melbourne’s Federation Square is the focus of the annual Diwali celebrations

Born here, I naturally love Melbourne.

But in my lifetime the city has been transformed via migration and especially by the increase in local Indians and students. It is now an exciting place – for example, in normal non-covid times, the city centre and Federation Square is taken over by Diwali celebrations.

India accounted for around 178,000 visitors to Victoria every year.

More than 67,000 international students were here before the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia – and now we can welcome them back!

We have the largest Indian population in Australia, with more than 209,000 Victorians reporting Indian heritage at the 2016 census. Since 2001 the number of Indian-born migrants in Melbourne has more than tripled.

Indians living in Melbourne love:

  • living in Melbourne’s suburbs with safe, accessible transport
  • local supermarkets, Indian grocery stores and restaurants
  • Melbourne’s festivals, museums and cultural events (including Diwali, Holi and more)
  • Victoria’s world-class education system
  • dining out in Melbourne’s renowned restaurants.

If you’re thinking about migrating to Australia from India, Melbourne could be the perfect home for you.

Melbourne has the 10th largest immigrant population among world metropolitan areas. In Greater Melbourne at the 2016 census, 37% of residents were born outside of Australia.

Qantas’ Melbourne-Delhi service starts will start on December 22 and operate four times a week year-round.

Just another reason we love Melbourne.

Launching your startup into India – my 5 key tips

The team that have taken Australian startup CANVA global – India is a market for almost every startup

Launching your startup into India – 5 key tips

Here’s a big generalisation – almost every startup can find an eager market in India.

I say that with confidence, because the Indian economic growth story means demand for everything cannot be met – demand is huge, so that means opportunity for your startup.

But how to approach India?

First – think longer term than you normally do, but keep in mind modern India can be either fast or slow and there is no way of predicting.

Second – leave your ego behind. Pretty much every western company that has succeeded in India has done so on the support of a strong local Indian team across all levels. To do this, they have effectively left their ego behind.

Third – India wants your startup, NOT your culture. Those who struggle typically want to transfer their “culture” to India, so they put their expat team in charge of the local team.

Being preoccupied with transferring “the way we do things in our company” to India makes them blind to “the way Indians do things there” which is the most important insight for future success.

Fourth – use your expat team wisely. Expats can come and go as needed – but your business needs longevity in India and that is what an Indian management team can provide.

Fifth – Smart companies that go into Asia also ensure they hire Asians into the Head Office team, so you have Asians running your enterprise on the ground in Asia and Asians at the right level in HO guiding and advising the HO team.

The future of startups and innovation is looking good for India.

 

Message to Vir Das – is bagging your country wise when overseas?

Pictured is Indian comedian Vir Das who recently publicly criticised India

I love India. I do not think it is perfect – just like every other country, it of course is not perfect.

India is many cultures, many languages and with powerful regional differences.

It is experiencing massive generational change with Millennials and Gen Z changing the landscape from “born something” to “become something”.

This change is happening at a rapid rate – even with an “old” leader, PM Narendra Modi. Funny you chose to be critical of septuagenarian leaders in India when you were in a country with a 78 year old President who replaced a 75 year old. By contrast, Modi is a “youthful” 71.

Having said all that, I would not criticise India in any global forum or in any other country. Why not? I just don’t like negativity and especially not on the international stage. Since you are an Indian you might feel that you can make these criticisms.

So my message to Vir Das is simple – I am sorry you chose to focus on the negative, especially on the international stage. Of course, I believe you have a right to your view. But consider building your comedy with respect and care. India is not perfect – but it is changing fast.

Emerging Markets Guru Mark Mobius – India a 50-year rally

Emerging Markets guru Mark Mobius is bullish on India

Thanks to my friend Mugunthan Siva, Managing Director, India Avenue Investment Management for spotting this one!

“India is on a 50-year rally,” even when there are quick bouts of bear markets, veteran Emerging Markets investor Mark Mobius mentioned in an interview on Bloomberg Tv. “India is possibly the place China was once 10 years in the past,” he said.

A man of his word, Mark Mobius has allotted nearly half of his emerging-markets fund to India and Taiwan to assist offset a slide in China shares that has dragged down returns from creating nations as an entire.

Mobius’ bullish view on India clashes with these of analysts at Morgan Stanley and Nomura Holdings Inc, who’ve downgraded the inventory market after the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex Index greater than doubled from a March 2020 low.

“Individuals say emerging-markets look unhealthy as a result of China is dragging down the index, however they’ve got to have a look at different areas similar to India which can be going up,” mentioned Mobius, who created Mobius Capital Companions LLP after a profession at Franklin Templeton Investments.

The Mobius Rising Markets Fund has a mixed 45% of its portfolio allotted to India and Taiwan, with tech {hardware} and software program the largest holdings in these markets. Indian software program companies supplier Persistent Techniques Ltd. and eMemory Know-how Inc, a Taiwanese chip know-how supplier, have been amongst its largest stakes as of end-September. The shares have each greater than doubled this year.

8 things we need to know about India

Confident young Indians like these are driving new entrepreneurial spirit

CAUTION – generalisations are just that, and you will almost always encounter those who do not fit in this list. This is offered to assist those visiting India for business, education or tourism.

1. Successful and confident

Economic success has restored Indian confidence. Indian entrepreneurs are now recognized around the world and there is a national expectation that the next Bill Gates will be an Indian. This entrepreneurial spirit permeates the nation (most dream of becoming entrepreneurs) which is now confident.

2. Never forget rural people

Indian business and political leaders may live the urban lifestyles, but they do not forget the small towns and villages at the centre of rural life – and it’s not just the politicians with an eye for votes, with major corporates such as Infosys pouring resources and funding into village developments.

3. Avoid pointing the finger

Indians become instantly passionate when challenged on subjects like their high tariffs, especially if the challenge comes from the west. The message is, point the finger at India and you can expect a robust response.

4. Oceans of patience

Indians have oceans of patience which can drive westerners crazy, but it gives them a special strength in negotiations. This patience is derived from deeply held spiritual views such as impermanence – Indians are constantly reminded of the impermanence of this life, everything changes, and they can wait when often we cannot. Who has the advantage in this situation?

5. Not just an IT miracle

Do not be fooled with the view that the Indian economic miracle is just driven by call centres and IT. Important as these are, look also at insurance, energy, retail, clean technology, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and even agriculture as areas where efficiency is producing startling results.

6. Not especially “Asian”

While India feels great about the success of “Asia”, in many ways it does not feel particularly “Asian”. First and foremost, Indians feel Indian, and to them that is vastly more relevant than being geographically part of Asia.

7. Remember the “Father of the Nation”

Whether dealing with the young or the old, in India never forget the “Father of the Nation”, Mahatma Gandhi.

8. Equity up there with democracy

Partly because of Gandhi, Indian leaders are more concerned with equity than with spreading democracy around the world – and cannot understand the enthusiasm of the USA and its allies to champion democracy in unlikely locations.

How is India travelling? Some developments for investors and exporters

Some developments for investors and exporters

  • One billion vaccines: The cumulative coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine doses administered across the country surpassed the 1-billion milestone, today. Over 700 million people have been administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while 290 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the government’s CoWin website. The government has set a target to vaccinate all adults by the end of 2021.
  • Moody’s banking rating: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the outlook for the Indian banking system to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’. It believes that the deterioration of asset quality since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic has been moderate and an improving operating environment will support asset quality. Moody’s expects asset quality to further improve, leading to decline in credit costs, as economic activity normalises. The rating agency has projected India’s real GDP growth for 2021-22 at 9.3 per cent.
  • Tax targets overshoot: The Centre is likely to exceed the budgeted tax collection target of Rs.22.2 trillion for the current fiscal year by Rs.2.5 trillion, according to experts. This is driven by better indirect tax mop-up, compliance measures and recovery in most sectors following the second wave of the pandemic. Personal income and corporate tax collections grew by 74 per cent to Rs.5.7 trillion in the first half of the current financial year, mainly due to advance tax and tax deduction at source (TDS) payments.
  • Power deficit: The power shortage situation in the country is improving as per the data released by the Central Electricity Authority. Power shortage came down to 1,456 MW on 17 October 2021 from 2,714 MW a week back. Peak power shortage stood at a massive 11,626 MW on 7 October 2021. According to power sector experts, demand has moderated due to the onset of autumn and heavy rains in many parts of the country. Moreover, an improvement in coal supplies would further bring down the power deficit.
  • Data consumption: India has the highest mobile data consumption in the world which is about 11 to 12 GB per user a month. The country is adding as much as 25 million new smartphone users every quarter making it a flourishing ground to launch digital initiatives, Ram Sewak Sharma, chief executive of the National Health Authority of India said. By 2025, India’s data consumption is likely to be doubled to nearly 25 GB per person a month, driven by affordable mobile broadband services and changing video viewing habits, Swedish gear maker Ericsson said.
  • E-Commerce sales: The share of e-commerce in the overall sales pie has touched new highs in the first fortnight of October 2021, according to market trackers and companies. Several categories, including smartphones, consumer electronics, apparel and daily necessities are growing faster than last year. The share of smartphone sales online surged to around 60 per cent in the first fortnight of Navratri-Dussehra from around 55 per cent, early estimates by market tracker Counterpoint Research showed. Televisions grew to 40 per cent from 31 per cent in the same period last year, while refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines and kitchen appliances rose to 9-10 per cent from 6-8 per cent. Market research firm RedSeer Consulting said the overall online shopper base has grown by around 20 per cent this festive season compared to last year, with tier II markets contributing to almost 61 per cent of all shoppers
  • Foreign investment: India witnessed net foreign investment inflows of USD 8.3 billion in August 2021, as compared to net inflows of USD 649 million in the preceding month. Net inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to USD 5 billion from nearly USD 3 billion in July 2021. Net inflows of foreign portfolio investment (FPI) worth USD 3.3 billion were seen in August 2021, after witnessing net outflows of USD 1.6 billion in July 2021.

Thanks to ASK Capital Management Pte Ltd for the above information.