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India is Changing. Are You Ready ?

Perhaps, Past Perceptions need a Push

Benefit From Gray Arrow A Kaytek Business Consulting Perspective

An earlier version of this article was originally written as a weblog on an external website in February 2004 before the last Indian General Elections in May 2004.

Subsequent election results proved that the politician below was wrong (as were many other Indians in their predictions).

Nevertheless, the fact remains that perceptions about India are not changing as fast as India itself.

You decide.

Perhaps, Past Perceptions need a Push.

The Portly Politician opposite me was greedily gulping a delicious Cake dessert.

"It is only Perceptions that matter.

When the Indian voter stands in front of the election booth, ready to stamp the vote, the only image in the mind will be.... Indian or Italian ?

All other factors will fade.

Perceptions are very powerful."

He of course was referring to our coming National elections where Indian voters have to make a choice between two coalition groups headed by an India Born Prime Minister and an Italian Born Indian Citizen Opposition Leader.

Indeed. Powerful Perceptions sometimes (mis) guide us.

Specially in the area of India's markets being very closed and not very open.

First, most countries including (US and India) are a signatory to the WTO (World Trade Organization) Treaties which compel certain time related milestones to opening of markets.

As we go forward, "free markets" (both in products and services) will be the reality.

It is only a matter of time (admist some arm twisting by some countries and slogan-shouting by protest groups).

Second, if you walk around any busy shopping area in any of the metros or small towns in India, US brands are the most visible in the market place.

So you do not need cozily connected cousins to sell here.

Third, today Indian markets and regulations are fast opening up.

Most US businessmen here want India to remain as their little secret before their competitors back home wake up from deep slumber.

Behind India's burgeoning Bullock-Carts and The Traditional Taj Mahal, many foreign businessmen are lustily counting (and sending back home) a lot of Dollars and Euros.

And yes, even the Chinese Renminbi.

Fourth, the import duties on software (an Industry that I can claim some familiarity with) have been Zero for the past many years, not just 18 months.

The Indian government realized it was stupid and impractical to charge import duties on software, when the same could be downloaded via the Net anywhere, anyplace.

After 2005 as per WTO regulations, import duties will further go down on many other products in India.

Last, there is an ongoing debate in India about the need to levy an exit tax on outgoing IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology - India's best technical institutions) students when they emigrate to America either for higher studies or foreign jobs.

Some people have suggested that we should perhaps persuade the US corporations (where many of these bright IITians are employed since many decades) to pay a Tax (along with Compounded Annual Interest) on their behalf for their intellectual contributions.

Would they pay up ?

If they do, the IIT Intellectual Tax would possibly be the interesting icing on our portly politician's delicious cake.

Politicians love foreign exchange incomes. Specially from foreigners.

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Updated on 27th March 2009
Posted on 16th February 2005

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