Jay-Z Rocks Glastonbury

Watching yesterday’s coverage of Glastonbury, the organisers must feel totally vindicated in their decision to book Jay-Z as their headline act. The guy rocked the place. I can’t believe the opposition he faced. Sure, he’s not an “indy” act but his rap act brought something to the table. A new musical culture was introduced to what can only be described as the biggest music festival in Britain.

By kicking off his set with an Oasis anthem, Jay-Z showed the world that he’s got a bigger heart than typical Glasto names like Noel Gallagher.

After Wonderwall, he had the 150,000 odd audience eating out of the palm of his hand. It was great fun to watch him play with the audience.

We know that music can transcend cultural barriers, the risk that Michael Eavis, festival organiser, took was well worth it. We owe him for sticking his neck out.

Case closed.

PS – for anyone who watched Amy Winehouse, what was she on? I can’t believe she was put on the famous pyramid stage.

Enterprise at Downing St

It was an honour to be invited by the Prime Minister and Mrs Brown to a reception at Downing St for entrepreneurs a few days back.

The reception coincided with the launch of a new strategy for enterprise and a set of counterproposals by the Conservatives. From my experience of starting businesses in the UK and in India, I have to say that the UK is way ahead and easier to navigate for the budding entrepreneur. We’re always going to have issues, and we’re always going to feel that the Government isn’t doing as much as it can to reduce red tape. However, if one takes an objective look (at our bottom line), our businesses are growing.

In conversation with the PM, many of us expressed that we faced the real danger of talking ourselves into a recession. Despite the negative media that the economy is receiving, the overwhelming consensus was that our businesses were growing, orders and contracts were being sealed and in general terms, we were all confident of weathering any economic downturn that we may face.

However, what I found very interesting was that everyone I spoke with at the reception said that they already had some kind of relationship with a high growth economy like India or China. Whether it was the lady who specialises in glass architecture, or the guy from Wales who’s set up an incubator for hi-tech companies in Wales.

Looks like the Government’s fear that medium sized businesses weren’t aware of the opportunities of India and other high growth economies presented, is misplaced. Raising awareness is not the problem. What they do need to worry about are the next steps…

Companies like mine specialise in helping British companies crack India. www.saffronchase.com




Bollywood leads the way…

With India being all the rage in London at the moment, it was probably quite apt that the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Business Leaders Summit concluded with ICICI Bank hosting an entertainment extravaganza in their honour with Shah Rukh Khan – bollywood superhero.

Vijay Mallya, Naresh Goyal, Deepak Puri, Suhel Seth et al rubbed shoulders with their contemporaries in London to the tune of some of Bollywood’s best loved songs (as performed by SRK).

In a Q&A response, Shah Rukh reiterated that whilst Hollywood is perceived as the epicentre of films, the Indian film industry isn’t far behind and he didn’t aspire to act in Hollywood.

When delivering intercultural training programmes for Western corporates (through our India Briefing Centre), we ensure that the participants watch a 15 min slice of a Hindi film. Just by watching these clips, your senses become accustomed to the huge gulf in western and eastern cultures. Apart from the singing, dancing and overdramatized action scenes, Bollywood flicks play a central role in shaping the identities of global Indians.

Ignore them at your peril. 





Anil Ambani Fixing Creaking Infrastructure / BBC World Business Report

Was interviewed on BBC TV’s World Business Report yesterday on the issue of Reliance ADA committing $7bn to strengthen their company’s ability to win more infrastructure projects in India.

Asked whether this ambition of Ambani Jnr is a nationalistic move – I had to point out that Indian’s make astute business decisions. First and foremost, take a look at the market. From the moment you land in India, you can’t help but observe the huge challenges India’s creaking infrastructure poses to her global emergence. Some commentators peg the opportunity as being a trillion dollar market.

Having local market knowledge and experience, it goes without that saying that Mr Ambani is well placed to compete in this market. Indian’s may be emotional and patriotic, but you shouldn’t mistake this decision to be anything but a business decision. Investing $7bn to capture a larger slice of a trillion dollar cake seems a good decision.

The Indian Government will be keen to attract global firms to participate in these mega infrastructure projects. Whilst these global firms possess expertise and specialism, they struggle immensly in India for the simple reason that they don’t have local knowledge. They don’t know how to navigate through the cultural maze. This is why we’ve set up Chase India and The India Briefing Centre to help global companies crack India.



Mayor Boris – global appeal?

At the entrepreneurship awards (see my previous entry), Mayor Boris delivered an amazingly funny keynote speech. It’s fair to say that there really is no match for him when it comes to light entertainment. He had them exactly where he wanted.

A prominent person on my table posed an interesting question – would non Brits “get” Bojo? His sense of humour and general behaviour is so “British”; would non-Brits understand him?

Let me know your thoughts.

Entrepreneurship & families

Amongst the vast number of claims that India and Indians make, the one that stands out for me is that India is truly the land of entrepreneurship. There are several examples of individuals who have gone from rags to riches in one generation.

For this reason, I was delighted to have attended the Ernst & Young Entrepreneuship Awards in London last week and found that in their main category of Master Entrepreneur, two out of five finalists were Indian. One of them, Dr Lalvani, of Wellman fame, went on to be specially recognised for his successes.

Both Indian finalists – Dr Lalvani and Rami Ranger place a huge emphasis on family support. It’s not unusual for winners to namecheck their family in their speeches, but Dr Lalvani’s was exceptional as he, in his very humble manner, made a simple point – he thanked his wife and family for allowing him to work every hour that he could.

I’m not claiming that Indian’s have a monopoly on family support – but as part of our cultural upbringing, families play a huge role in defining identities.

Obama – The multicultural hero

I think it’s great that Obama has landed the Democratic Presidential nomination (even though the Clintons haven’t pulled out yet!). While many paint a picture of America as a land in which minority communities are treated as second class citizens, Obama’s success clearly demonstrates the meritocratic nature of its society and of its people.

Who would have imagined that a guy with a name that sounds like Osama, who has family residing in Kenya and has himself lived in Indonesia would one day succeed in being nominated for President. This stuff is of dreams.

Even if he doesn’t win the election (which I think he will), the simple fact that this guy has broken through sends a sharp message, firstly – to Americans, and secondly, to the world, that America has an improved understanding and appreciation of cultural issues than we’ve given it credit for in the past.

The knock on effect for America’s disasterous foreign policy is huge.

Senator McCain also understands this. Last weekend, he invited three contenders for the VP’s job to meet with him. Among the three was a relatively new and young Indian Senator called Bobby Jindal. Simply by asking to meet him, McCain and the GOP have also acknowledged the need to embrace diversity and multi-culturalism.

In Britain, we (including me) tom tom the egalitarian nature of our society, but we are so so far back when it comes to politics that I don’t see us electing a Prime Minister from the ethnic minorities for another decade or more – despite having a fantastic crop of minority MPs who are hugely talented in the House of Commons. I’m not for positive discrimination but I can’t see one of these breaking through in the same way as Obama.

What’s the solution? Do we need one?