India Trade Mission – “It looks chaotic, but somehow everything works.”
“This city needs a new coat of paint.”
“It looks chaotic, but somehow everything works.”
“The exterior of a building can be completely deceptive.”
These are just a few of the very insightful comments I overheard from some colleagues during the recent FedEx sponsored Trade Mission to India (November 9-14, 2008).
Overall, there are numerous juxtapositions that exist between India’s “hard infrastructure” – including airports, railways and highways – versus the country’s “soft infrastructure” – such as work environments and policies and procedures.
As we travelled through the country and used the airports, roads and other public infrastructure, it was evident that there is opportunity for improvement! Having grown up in India and visiting on a regular basis, I can see palpable changes in the right direction. For example, the Mumbai domestic airport is a far cry from where it was even a couple of years ago. Even so, for a first-time visitor some of these elements can be a bit surprising.
However, if you are able to see past those initial impressions, chances are once again you will be surprised by the ways the country consistently delivers. Domestic airlines are impeccable, as are the hotels and the service. Then, you show up at the office and you feel like you are back in the Western world. Not only because of the English language is the lingua franca, but also because the language of business is essentially the same as the one you use back home in the western world. India definitely scores on the “soft infrastructure” part of the equation. The creativity, innovative spirit and entrepreneurship of the Indian culture are hallmarks of success.
To get a quick feel of the freedom of press and the chaotic democracy that is India today, while in the country I encourage everyone to turn on the TV and watch the Indian channels (several of them are in English, in case you are wondering).
I am now in Delhi to speak at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit – primarily on the issues of infrastructure in India. More on what I learn there in my next blog……