Entrepreneurial India

The Economic Times on Sunday led with a story by Chandralekha Roy on how Indians are becoming entrepreneurial. It featured a few quotes about and by me:

There was a brief period of time when we thought the New Economy had taken risk out of risk. The Net boom spawned so many wildly successful new companies that entrepreneur was no longer a euphemism for trying something small and insignificant that will probably fail because she couldnt get a job with Goldman or McKinsey.

The trickle effect is that the downside of entrepreneurship has improved along with the upside – and this change is probably permanent. Indeed, if anything the boom has educated a lot of people on the meaning of the word.

A colleague remembers the heady days chronicling the boom. At that time, he says, there were all these people one interviewed whose theme was we were just ordinary office guys like you and then when we woke up and read about the IndiaWorld deal and I thought I had to get out and do my own thing.

When Rajesh Jain sold IndiaWorld to Sify for over $100million it was catalyst of sorts. Till then mega money-deals only happened to the global Indian. Think Sabeer Bhatia.

What Jains deal actually did was to tell people in India that one could be a success in ones backyard. Once the preserve of the NRI population, Indian entrepreneurship at home could be just as robust as it was abroad.

As Jain says today:Entrepreneurship cant be a profession, just as money cant be the driver. Those who are in the short-term, with the motivation of only making money dont necessarily fail, but are likely to.

He also agrees that todays entrepreneurial model does not start with a picture of the business to be created, but of the customer for whom the business is to be created.

My quotes are not completely in context and make little sense by themselves. If you are interested in Entrepreneurship (now is as good a time as any), it may help to read some of the articles I have written:

An Entrepreneur’s Attributes (Nov 2003)
An Entrepreneur’s Early Days (Sep 2003)
Reflections on Ideas and Entrepreneurship (Jul 2003)
Entrepreneur’s Enigmas (Jan 2003)
The Entrepreneur’s Delights (Sep 2002)
Life as an Entrepreneur (Oct 2001)
Leadership Lessons from Lagaan (Aug 2001)
Entrepreneurial Learnings (July 2001)
Entrepreneurship (Mar 2001)

American Jobs

[via Anish] WSJ has an article by Robert Reich which puts the US jobs scenario in context:

It’s true that U.S. manufacturing employment has been dropping for many years, but that’s not primarily due to foreigners taking these jobs. Factory jobs are vanishing all over the world… What happened to factory jobs? In two words, higher productivity…Manufacturing is following the same trend as agriculture. As productivity rises, employment falls because fewer people are needed.

Want to blame something? Blame new knowledge. Knowledge created the electronic gadgets and software that can now do almost any routine task. This goes well beyond the factory floor. America also used to have lots of elevator operators, telephone operators, bank tellers and service-station attendants. Most have been replaced by technology. Supermarket check-out clerks are being replaced by automatic scanners. The Internet has taken over the routine tasks of travel agents, real-estate brokers, stock brokers and accountants. With digitization, high-speed data networks and improved global bandwidth, a lot of back-office work can now be done more cheaply abroad. Last year, companies headquartered in the U.S. paid workers in India, China and the Philippines almost $10 billion to handle customer service and paperwork.

The problem isn’t the number of jobs in America; it’s the quality of jobs. Look closely at the economy today and you find two growing categories of work — but only the first is commanding better pay and benefits. This category involves identifying and solving new problems. Here, workers do R&D, design and engineering. Or they’re responsible for high-level sales, marketing and advertising. They’re composers, writers and producers. They’re lawyers, bankers, financiers, journalists, doctors and management consultants. I call this “symbolic analytic” work because most of it has to do with analyzing, manipulating and communicating through numbers, shapes, words, ideas. This kind of work usually requires a college degree.

Over the long term, symbolic analysts will do just fine, as long as they stay away from job functions that are becoming routinized. They will continue to benefit from economic change. Computer technology gives them more tools for thinking, creating and communicating. The global market gives them more potential customers for their insights.

The second growing category of work in America involves personal services. Computers and robots can’t do these jobs because they require care or attentiveness. Workers in other nations can’t do them because they must be done in person. Some personal-service workers need education beyond high school — nurses, physical therapists and medical technicians, for example. But most don’t, such as restaurant workers, cabbies, retail workers, security guards and hospital attendants. In contrast to that of symbolic analysts, the pay of most personal-service workers in the U.S. is stagnant or declining. That’s because the supply of personal-service workers is growing quickly, as more and more people who’d otherwise have factory or routine service jobs join their ranks. Legal and undocumented immigrants are also pouring into this sector.

But America’s long-term problem isn’t too few jobs. It’s the widening income gap between personal-service workers and symbolic analysts. The long-term solution is to help spur upward mobility by getting more Americans a good education, including access to college. Unfortunately, just the opposite is occurring. There will be plenty of good jobs to go around. But too few of our citizens are being prepared for them. Rather than fret about “losing jobs” to others, we ought to be fretting about the growing number of our young people who are losing their footing in the emerging economy.

Game Theory for Kashmir?

[via Smart Mobs] Nature features a paper by Elisabeth Woodwhiich could help peace settlements:

A political scientist at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico has devised a mathematical method that could help civil-war negotiators to find the most stable peace treaties1.

Elisabeth Wood calculates that a settlement will be stronger and more likely to last if it finds the ideal way to apportion the stakes. For example, if two warring factions each want control of some part of a disputed region, negotiators need to divide the territory in a way that comes closest to satisfying them both.

Perhaps, this could be applied to the India-Pakistan talks over Kashmir.

Atanu Dey had written sometime ago on this topic in an essay entitled “Dollar Auctions and Deadly Games.”

India’s Next 5 Years

Rediff features a Business Standard article on India’s future, starting with some stats:

  • Today around 2 million new mobile connections are sold each month. That’s expected to climb to between 2.5 million and 3 million monthly by next year.
  • The auto industry should be making 1 million vehicles a year by 2005-06.
  • There will be over 70,000 bank branches and almost 200,000 ATMs by 2009.
  • By 2005 television sales should climb to about 9.5 million from the current 7.3 million.
  • BPO and software services should have a turnover of around $70 billion to $80 billion by 2007.
  • The production of motorcycles should climb to over 10 million from the current 3.2 million by 2011-12.

    “It’s so damn exciting,” says R A Mashelkar, the dynamic Director General, CSIR Council of Scientific & Industrial Research. “The change that is taking place is so huge. It’s a great time to be an Indian and to be in India.”

    What will India be like in five years time? If everything goes according to plan — in India that’s an extremely big if — the Indian economy should have undergone a transformation.

    At one level, the changes will be one of scale — the economy will simply be much bigger than it is currently. At another India should, truly, have become a knowledge economy and an even bigger player than it is today on the global stage.

  • TECH TALK: 2003-04: Web Services, Social Networking

    8. Web Services

    The hype surrounding web services is slowly turning to real-world solutions. The buzzwords in 2003 – service-oriented architectures (SOA) and business process management (BPM). Writes Phil Wainewright: At the same time as building up a service oriented architecture, enterprises need to equip business managers to take charge of processes from the top down.

    A quote by IBM’s Bob Sutor explains SOA: In an SOA world, business tasks are accomplished by executing a series of ‘services,’ jobs that have well defined ways of talking to them and well-defined ways in which they talk back. It doesn’t really matter how a particular service is implemented, as long as it responds in the expected way to your commands and offers the quality of service you require. This means that the service must be appropriately secure and reliable as well as fast enough. This makes SOA a near ideal technology to use in an IT environment where software and hardware from multiple vendors is deployed.

    What has also become clear in 2003 is that to accomplish the next leap in productivity, organizations have to rethink their business processes, which is where the emerging area of BPM comes in. Web service providers the tools to bring about this transformation.

    2004: The Web services revolution will continue. The software development which began at the edge of the enterprise will reach within and extend outside to the larger ecosystem that organisations do business in. A service to watch is Sforce by Salesforce.

    9. Social Networking

    Venture capitalists found their calling in the last quarter of 2003 in social networking sites. Whether this is a bubble or a disruptive innovation, only time call. But for now, sites like Friendster, LinkedIn, Tickle, Spoke, Ryze and Tribe.net are part of the new connectivity revolution. This time, it is about networking people. Be it dating, jobs, business contacts or sales relationships management, social networking at least for the moment seem to have a solution for everything.

    Wrote the New York Times recently: Some of the fledgling social-network companies may indeed mature into powerful business hubs like eBay or Amazon. Yet the more intriguing prospect, from a sociological standpoint, anyway, is whether these applications will actually transform our lives. Ever since the publication of Bowling Alone, we’ve been flooded with even more data about the end of community and lamentations for its return. At least in theory, a readily accessible social network would enable more of us to bond with people we regard as far less anonymous than strangers. The larger possibility, that plugging into our social networks might somehow remedy a profound national loneliness, is even more enticing.

    2004: The coming year will be the true test of whether the social networking sites can build up a truly profitable and sustaining business. The leading sites are now well endowed with capital, so they will now need to show that it is possible to transform the six degrees of separation into something more than just network theory. 2004 will also the social networking ideas applied to many other verticals, and online reputation will plan an increasingly important role in our professional and business lives.

    Tomorrow: Blogs and RSS, India in 2003

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