Submitted by: Andrea Muntzel
You can imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV Tuesday morning only to see Good Morning America doing a segment on Mumbai. The show is doing a new reporting stint on the â€œbiggestâ€ things in the world. Why were they in Mumbai? It is because the city is the most populous in the world, with the potential to dwarf the total population of the entire Australian continent in just a few years. Although the initial draw of the city was its colossal population, the segment didn’t dwell on that. Instead, they attempted to show a snapshot of the many faces of Mumbai. Those who chose to read the Khanna book Billions of Entrepreneurs will surely remember the portion dedicated to India’s â€œsoft power.â€ Khanna quotes Joseph Nye, a member of the Clinton administration, when describing soft power as â€œthe ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments. It arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies.â€ Contrast this with China’s hard power which is gauged by how well the country can â€œcoerce and get its way through military power and economic weight.â€
Since we are in business school, it would make sense that we often fall into focusing on that â€œeconomic weightâ€ portion of hard power. It seems clear though, that India lacks the hard power of China but is still finding success economically. Something must be said for the magnetism that emanates from India’s soft power. I’m not sure how long GMA keeps its videos up, but I hope you get the chance to see them. It’s a series of five short video segments on things as diverse as the slums of Dharavi to Bollywood to our favorite game, cricket.
Just to keep in mind when you watch, notice how many times the words â€˜spirit’ and â€˜determination’ are mentioned. Observe the â€˜electrifying energy’ that surrounds Mumbai and â€˜binds the spirit of the people.’ Finally, how does soft power ultimately affect business in India? How does it affect the people drawn to doing business in these countries? According to Khanna, China lost a lot of its soft power during the Cultural Revolution. We all know there’s something to be said for efficiency, but how important of a factor is culture in business?
From the videos, we can see that Mumbai’s chaotic, bustling, and energy-rich culture has given birth to at least one interesting business prospect: Tiffinwallas. Essentially delivery men, these individuals pick up business people’s homemade lunches at their house and then deliver them to their work, making so few mistakes and resulting in such incredible efficiency that Mumbai’s tiffinwallas have a 6-sigma rating! We’ll have to talk to Professor Olsen about that one next quarterâ€¦
In my opinion, soft power is inextricably related to business power. Regardless, though, even during dead week, these videos can put a smile on your face.