Friday, February 1, 2008


I could never have imagined that it was going to be the start of one of my most vitriolic arguments. The scene was a CEO forum. And the supernova hot debate was driven by one particular CEO, who had his tanks trained on me, while he argued that the Nano and various overseas takeovers by Indian companies were in reality ‘no news’ as India was already a globalised world-class business powerhouse, driven by the huge number of entrepreneurs that India churns out year in and year out. And when I asked him to provide proof, the answer was, “Because my Dad says so! Got it?” His sarcasm was dripping; and I decided to check his ‘Dad’ out on whether India was really a top notch ‘globalised’ business hub!

But first, for the intemperate critics: does globalisation really work? Without even an iota of doubt, yes! Not only for countries, but also for corporations. The monumental neo-IT 2006 study titled ‘Globalization and the Impact on Shareholder Value and Revenues’, which compared the neo-IT SG Index of the 30 most globalized Fortune 500 companies against the S&P 500, comprehensively proved how companies that ‘globalise’ their services “create (dramatically) more value for shareholders than companies that don’t globalise!”And that too an eye-popping 204% more! Even the classic 2006 Accenture report, ‘Expanding Markets: Innovation and Globalization’, showed how “the best performers were 83% globalised, while average performers were only 18% globalised.”

So is India really a truly globalised nation? There perchance has been no better a study historically on globalisation than the Carnegie Endowment and A. T. Kearney exemplar dissertation, ‘The Globalization Index 2007’, which most analytically ranks various countries of the world on a multitude of parameters, finally providing the consolidated Globalization Index (GI) ranking. I’m sure if you were to see India’s final GI rank, much more than your jaw would have dropped! India has been honourably ranked second... from last! It’s mind boggling and unbelievable that countries like Algeria, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Pakistan, Colombia, Kenya, Peru, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Senegal, Vietnam, Morocco, Ukraine, Botswana, Tunisia, Uganda, Chile, Croatia, Panama and innumerable more are miles ahead of India. Despicably, even last year, and the year before that, India had been knighted with the same rank – second last! The index also shows how the rank of India in terms of FDI is – you won’t believe it – sixth from the last! In telecom usage, India is third from bottom! And similar are the various ranks of India across parameters.

So where lies the blundering mistake that India is committing? The answer – though extremely simple – is almost a slap on the face of policymakers. India has miserably failed to encourage the philosophy of entrepreneurship, the most key factor that can radically catapult India’s globalisation quotient, a factor which stalwarts like Ratan Tata, Kumara Mangalam Birla, Azim Premji et al swear by day in and day out, but unfortunately a factor that policymakers and the majority of India Inc. ignore haphazardly! Columbia GSB’s incisive study (Role For Entrepreneurship in India) reports how while the US entrepreneurship system “has been quite successful” for their economic growth, Indian entrepreneurs actually might “hinder economic development!” Even in a place like Bangalore – ostensibly India’s Silicon Valley – entrepreneurs were playing a “possibly negative” role in the Indian economy! And the blame, according to the report, lies on governmental policies. Against this, imagine how the US most shrewdly uses us very Indians to their benefit. The acclaimed Duke University report, ‘America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs’, shows how Indian immigrants, over the past 8 years, have filed the second highest number of patent applications (more than 10,200), have founded the highest number of manufacturing/innovation-related service firms in the US (24%), have founded the highest number of bioscience firms (10%), the highest number of software firms (34%) and so on so forth. And America is the world’s largest economy! Of course, there’s huge optimism within India’s entrepreneurship community (Grant Thornton’s ‘International Business Report’ ranks our entrepreneurs’ optimism second highest in the world). But all that would come to a cypher naught if the government and the majority of India Inc. doesn’t wake up to the thundering call of supporting entrepreneurship, a call the exemplary Ratan Tata has already taken too many times, with the latest Nano being the terrific topping. India, dear CEOs, irrespective of whatever you think, is still ludicrously far from being globalised. Even my Dad says so!


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