How much can you say online without getting arrested in India? Apparently it doesn’t take much now due to a little-known provision of India’s information technology act known as the 66A. This article points out examples to support the claims. For instance, Shaheen Dhada, a “member of a prominent Muslim family in the town of Palghar” was arrested for her negative Facebook comments about Bal Thackeray, recently deceased leader of the nationalist Hindu party. Moreover, businessman Ravi Srinivasan was arrested for “defamatory/scurrilous tweets” and cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was arrested for “sketches he posted online that attacked government corruption.” All of these instances have been met with public outrage as those who were previously used to having more free speech rights become afraid of the direction the government is going toward. In fact, many got together to petition section 66A in India’s Supreme Court claiming that it violates Indians’ constitutional rights. However, it has been kept in place for the time being with the attorney general’s assurance that the government would be tightening guidelines to check abuse of this section. It is shocking to me that such a guideline ever even passed in India who is known for being open-minded and democratic. Furthermore, I believe it indicates that the Indian government feels threatened by its citizens’ exchange of opinions because it fears that their dissatisfaction is more widespread which if not curbed could lead to organized dissent. This argument might not be agreeable to some but I fail to see any other reason why the government should censor and punish its citizens are sharing their thoughts unless they can actually cause the severe “annoyance, inconvenience, hatred, danger, obstruction, or insult” that 66A is purportedly intended to curb. As the presence and use of online technology grows in India I have to wonder – where will the government settle on to draw the lines about what is “dangerous” and what isn’t?
Unfortunately, there is very little reciprocity between China and India when it comes to the export of goods. In 2011, exports from China to India reached $43.5 billion by exports from India back to China for only $19.6 billion. This makes people, such as the chairman of Bharat Heavy Electricals, very worried about India’s future dependence on China. He says, “Without a duty to control Chinese imports, we will continue to lean on cheaper, unproven equipment instead of building our own technology and our own industry.” However, it would seem that this is not only an Indian problem but American problem as well as both governments may join together to submit a complaint to the World Trade Organization about Chinese companies allegedly dumping cheap government-subsidized product into industries to knock out foreign competitors in their own markets. Needless to say this is a serious issue and the likelihood of the claims being true are fairly high judging by China’s past history and lack of reliability. The question is – will America and India begin erecting trade barriers to stop China from dumping or are they too hooked on cheap Chinese products step up and make such bold decisions?
India’s sales pitch is going to need to change for American companies to want to employ its workers in upcoming years. That is, in the past India was always good for what Robyn Meredith refers to as “back office operations” such as running call centers and data storage centers at a fraction of what it would cost to do the same thing in the US. However, many US companies are now looking to export their “skilled white-collar jobs in research, accounting, procurement, and financial analysis” to lower-cost countries but are not using India even though it is the cheapest. The doctor suspects that the rationale for this can be encapsulated by the opinion held by Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS. Phil states that “the higher-value outsourcing jobs require a greater understanding of business context and a higher amount of interaction with clients”; something he concludes cannot be found as easily in India. Therefore, businesses are turning to “nearshoring” jobs to European and South American countries. Employing workers in these countries often have the benefit of being in the same time zone which by now most businesses understand is advantageous for creating organizational synergy. Furthermore, labor in many of these countries is still very cheap and employing workers from them also has the added benefit of multilingual employees that do not have Indian accents (which carry a negative connotation) should a company choose to also locate its call centers there. Therefore, it is clear that the India workforce sales pitch will soon be in need of an image overhaul if it wants to stay internationally competitive.
It is common in India to have apartments with established rent protection because of the Bombay rent control act of 1947. Because of this, residents who have lived in the same place for several decades are now turning into millionaires as developers offer them large sums of money (the article cites an example of one couple pocketing $2.5 million from Orbit) to sell and vacate their apartment. The reason developers are so willing to do this is that certain areas in South Mumbai are projected to have a potential value of “$40 billion if redeveloped” according to Pujit Aggarwal, managing director at Orbit. This means that renters who pulled off the longest from being bought out usually get the greatest payoffs. As a business person, this begs the question – which areas will be next for development? If investors are able to predict this in the near future, I believe it is safe to bet that real estate investing will quickly grow and small player wins like the ones discussed in this article will fall. Moreover, if this is widespread, who’s to say India will not experience a similar housing bubble to the one taking place in China?
To combat the rotavirus, one of the leading causes of childhood death, the government has announced that it will be selling a vaccine for $1 a dose. Every year the virus kills roughly half a million children worldwide. With the cost significantly lower than it otherwise would be, I expect more children will be able to be immunized. After presenting the history of how the vaccine was developed in New Delhi through a public-private partnership, it drew the conclusion that “broad cooperation reduced research costs for the manufacture and helped keep the vaccine and expensive.” I personally tend to believe that partnerships like this should be encouraged to develop technologies that save lives; especially in countries like India where there is great need. It would have been nice if the article all had gone into further depth about how this partnership structured but that would probably have taken several more pages explain. It would also have been nice if it had shared how it plans to reach the children affected that do not live in India. Still, this is a great example of how businesses and government should and can work together toward social responsibility and based on India’s family like culture; it does not surprise me that it is a trendsetter in this field.
So you thought parental matchmaking was something of the past in India? Think again – “marriages within the community is still very much the norm” except now there is a modern twist to the process. Narayan’s article focuses on the growth of Matrimony.com, a company that has “brokered more than 2 million marriages” by helping parents match their children by cast, complexion, and religious values. The company also touts an Elite Matrimony unit for those who don’t want their offspring’s profile blasted around the web and have the money to pay for this premium service. Putting aside the standard ethical debate that centers around arranged marriage and just looking at this from a business perspective, this industry has a great deal of room for growth I do not doubt that he will meet or exceed its $37 billion projected cap.
This article discusses how India’s current MBA candidates are having a harder time seeing a return on investment in their business education. This was ironic to me because I read it just after having read The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith which discusses how Americans should be worried because their Indian and Chinese counterparts have the potential to take away jobs because of their willingness to work for less. However, based on the information the article presented it seems as if Indian students are having an equally difficult time finding placement. In fact, the article claims that, “even top-tier schools like the Indian School of Business…have extended their job placement season indefinitely because only 57% of students have found jobs.” Moreover, the potential for landing top salaried jobs outside India has shrunk significantly and this year the best international offer an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta was offered topped out at roughly $87,000 down from last year’s peak of $280,000. I can empathize with Indian MBAs about the competitiveness of the current job market; however, I feel it is worthy to note that most of these salaries are still well above those of other professions. Still, I am hoping that the signs of slow steady economic recovery we have been seeing recently will soon have trickle-down effects on the American and Indian job market and that this dismal situation will shortly be reversed.
Apparently American’s airline industry is not the only one that’s hurting. This article points out that many companies in India’s airline industry are having serious trouble. For instance, Jet Airways hasn’t turned a profit in five years. Moreover, Air India, the nation’s government owned airline has six years of losses and $8 billion in debt. But why is this industry having so much trouble? The article hints that is because of the international economic downturn and also because the citizens of many countries like India do not have the Internet capabilities to book flights. It then goes on to address the fact that these issues with India’s infrastructure have negatively impacted Indian e-commerce pioneer MakeMyTrip which shares online ticket revenue with carriers. However, it continues by presenting the company’s sentiment that the worst is over because of the news that the government is pushing a law to open the airline industry and that mobile broadband availability and usage is on the rise. Furthermore, it supports the sentiment using a quote from Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt regarding the new bandwidth in New Delhi – soon, he said, “this place is going to be rocking.” Overall, I’m likely to agree with this prediction because it is easy to see that the influx of cheap smart phones and broadband access in India will improve both the accessibility of flight information and ability to book flights.
If India wasn’t already known for being a mecca for startups before, Nasscom is insuring it will be with its own version of the startup reality show Shark Tank. This initiative allows groups to give 8-minute presentations in hopes of receiving a check of Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore and will create and grow roughly 10,000 startups around India in 10 years.
With it taking place in Bangalore, India’s “hub of technology and innovative enterprises”, I am excited to see what companies will come of this show. Overall, I believe that it will be beneficial to India’s economy. My only concern is that this could easily give false hope to India’s masses that pursing a startup is easy and will usually end in success while in truth it is significantly hard and most often ends in failure. Yet even with this potential pitfall, I am very in support of this entrepreneurial endeavor because on the whole it will be educational and am willing to bet we will begin to see direct and indirect byproducts of the show popping up in the US with rebranded names in the next 10 years.
This article’s focus was on the impact of India reducing its customs duty to 30%. At the present, cars over Rs 22 lakh ($40,000) have a 100% customs levy and those below that price have a 60% levy. Indian Lamborghini head Pavan Shetty said that this will “surely expand the market, by at least double.” Therefore, it is seemingly in India’s best benefit to reduce the trading blocs it has with countries that it is supposed to have a free trade agreement with.
But what will be the impacts on the domestic carmakers? It might be that there is enough demand for both the new luxury cars and those made in India but it is my guess that domestics will take a hit for this. However, I think from a consumer standpoint this is good because it will force incumbent Indian car manufacturers to start designing better cars for the same prices in order to be competitive with the surge of rivals. It would seem that Indian government officials agree for the article ends by saying they feel “that the auto industry cannot be given an indefinite protection by maintaining high tariff walls.”