The Indian Champions

As back in India Indo-US Nuclear Deal had made big news, I was amazed not to find any coverage in US media. Ultimately, I found ‘Business Week to carry a report, ‘Wall Street Threatens India Nuclear Pact’.

However, in a recent special report, ‘The new champions’ in Economists, Indian companies got its glorious share as ‘companies that are worth investing in, and that are even starting to take on and beat the best of the developed world’s multinationals.

Antoine van Agtmael’s book “The Emerging Markets Century” includes Infosys, an Indian software giant; and Ranbaxy along with Haier, a Chinese white-goods firm; Cemex, a Mexican cement company; and Embraer, a Brazilian aircraft-maker.

“Globality”, a new book on the latest phase of globalization by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) includes the Tata Group, an Indian conglomerate that spans cars and steel, software and tea along with Goodbaby, which has an 80% share of the market for baby buggies in China and a 28% share in America.

Tata has operations in 85 countries, and has been making a series of high-profile acquisitions that are fundamentally transforming the company set up in 1868. In 2000 it bought London-based Tetley, an iconic tea company. In 2007, after a fierce bidding war with CSN, a Brazilian steel firm, it paid $12 billion for Corus, a European steel company. In March this year it paid Ford $2.3 billion for two legendary car businesses, Jaguar and Land Rover. Short-term market pressure may have forced Ford to sell two firms that it had done good work restructuring, says Alan Rosling, Tata’s (British) chief strategist: “Tata will reap the benefit of all Ford’s hard work.”

Another reason to be optimistic about Tata’s growing global reach is its Indian origin, which makes it more sensitive to cultural differences than many of its peers in developed countries, claims Mr Rosling. And in its strategy, the firm has benchmarked itself against some of the world’s best companies. It has borrowed ideas from firms such as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Mitsubishi, a Japanese conglomerate, and GE, says Mr Rosling.

Tata Consulting Services, along with Indian counterparts such as Infosys and Wipro, has built up a large organization for outsourcing business processes, serving companies around the world. Increasingly, it has moved into higher-value businesses, as have its Indian peers.

In January it unveiled its long-awaited Nano, a new “people’s car” that will be sold for just $2,500. This was “not just the result of using cheap Indian engineers”, says Mr Rosling. Nor is it about accepting lower standards on safety or environmental emissions. The company used state-of-the-art virtual design technology and global teams to drive genuine innovation. Mr Tata saw the Nano as a safer alternative for Indian families currently travelling by motorcycle, but consumers in developed countries are already talking of it as a possible second car for use in towns because, being small, it is easy to park. Still, the Nano will probably sell best in other emerging markets.

Unfortunately Mamta can’t understand or applaud these champions.

It was also interesting to go through the entry,’ Is Innovation India’s Next Big Thing?‘ by Marianne Kolbasuk McGee on Wipro.

Wipro is currently “the largest third-party R&D services company in the world,” according to an interview this week with InformationWeek and “R&D is the next big thing in India.”

Many NRIs are doing great work for the improvement that has global impacts through from USA. One of them is Vinod Khosla,who is one of the clean-tech industry’s most vocal cheerleaders, and most of today’s clean technologies fall short of his 1-billion-car test. .

What Indian companies are doing gets noted and recognized with respect in the developed world all around the globe. And that is the only hope for India. Even with all the undoing of Indian hardheaded politicians such as Mamta Devi by delaying Nanos, and inaction of Man Mohan government to sort out the issues of land acquisition for industry in last 4+ years, India may move ahead to the league of powerful economies of the world.

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