Before you jump aboard the subcontinental express...

What's this India Business?
April 29, 2005

Everyone who is anyone in the world of global commerce is wondering what to do about India. It is one of the world's largest markets yet to be seriously tapped, and it may become the world's most effective supply platform. Is it worth investing there? In what businesses? How? What are the pitfalls? What is it like to do business there? What are the country and her people like? After all, India is awfully hot, has all these snake charmers and those quaint Morris Oxford cars, 1958!

On the other hand, although India did once have the largest slum in the world, at Dharavi in Bombay, that same slum has a gross domestic product larger than many small Indian states. A large chunk of the expensive leather goods available in the West are made there and, in the past 12 months, gleaming world-class buildings, putting much of dowdy London to shame, have risen there. India was an enigma; now she is like one of her suburban trains leaving the platform at high speed. The doors are open and many are racing to join it.

Paul Davies's book provides an easy and practical guide for anyone wishing to enter the Indian market to do business. The book contains three parts: one covers the outsourcing business; the second the process of doing business with Indians and in India; and the third with managing one's business.

The outsourcing business is of intense interest given the potential substantial cost arbitrages for Western firms. The three chapters in this section describe the drivers of business process outsourcing, India's role, and handy, practical steps for entering the business. This chapter will be particularly useful, as it deals with criteria for partner choice and spells out the contours of what can be a tricky set of operational issues, where much is left unstated and must be figured out by trial and error.

Unlike, say, London, Indian cities are not yet global centres in the sense of businesses dealing with other countries in the world. However, they are not necessarily restricted to dealing with the local market. Thus, understanding what the Indians are all about is crucial to success.

The second section of the book helps one acquire the down-to-earth insights needed to do business in India. The third section, the longest, contains standard sets of chapters found in how-to-do business books in the West, tailored to Indian conditions and informed by the author's Indian experiences. Again, this section provides useful knowledge on practical topics.

Overall, this is a comprehensive, handy and readable volume of practical use to those wishing to make sense of opportunities in the one of the world's largest and most interesting countries.

Sumit Majumdar is professor of technology strategy, University of Texas at Dallas, US.

What's this India Business?: Offshoring, Outsourcing and the Global Service Revolution

Author - Paul Davies Nicholas
Publisher - Brealey
Pages - 232
Price - £20.00
ISBN - 1 904838 00 6

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