India season cometh (again)

Its been a few years, but I can, for the first time in ages, say that I may actually enjoy August!

Traditionally, August and December were two points at which we could do all the things that needed doing at work, but in the last few years this distinction blurred as there was so much going on. It seems to be much quieter this time around, perhaps they’re too busy organising themselves for the autumnal months ahead of us – which looks busy.

I thought I’d write a post as to what’s going on in London viz. India in September & October, as this’ll probably save some time in conversation. Please feel free to add to this list:

Lord Davies, International Trade Minister, leads a business delegation to India this September. He’ll visit Delhi, Mumbai, and Nagpur from 14th – 18th September.

Officials from The Indian Ministry of Finance & SEBI visit London on a study tour of regulatory and monetary policy.

The Corporation of London hosts its India Advisory Council meeting on 1st October, which Naina Kidwai and other leading CEOs from Mumbai visit. There’s an event with CNBC also.

The Lord Mayor of London leads a City delegation to India from 19th – 24th October. The Lord Mayor represents the interests of the financial services sector of the UK.

The Indian President visits the UK on her first state visit here. You can be assured of several events around this. I believe that her visit will also be used to mark the countdown to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The UK India Business Council will organise their annual conference and dinner on 29th October. Was a blockbuster last year, you’d better buy tickets early if you want to secure a seat.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for UK – India Trade & Investment Relations will host a dinner symposium on how British companies can participate in building India’s roads, ports and other infrastructure. I’m lead to believe that an Indian Minister will deliver the keynote address. Event takes place in conjunction with the Commonwealth Business Council on 2nd November.

Just as well I’ve been down to the gym building up my stamina. At least, I’ll be able to enjoy the merriment around Diwali this time. Can’t wait to attend all those charity fund-raisers in town 😉

The woes of Air India

Reading that Praful Patel, Indian Minister for Civil Aviation, is visiting Manmohan Singh with a range of ideas that could turnaround India’s state airline, I am reminded of my few unique experiences on Air India which, no matter what Mr Patel proposes, will undoubtedly remain etched in my memory.

Having experienced great luxury travel with the likes of Jet and Virgin, especially of the sumptuous Virgin lounge in Heathrow, it remains a constant surprise that Air India’s lounge is just so, so shabby. To the point that the furniture has ciggy holes in it and everything looks greasy – including the samosas! Let’s not even mention the unbearable stained carpets, the over-weight and heavy handed flight attendants, or the sub-standard on-flight entertainment.

I agree with Praful Patel on the count that the issues with Air India are deeply systemic and go to the core. If they can’t get customer service right, then why expect a higher demand on their flights?

Not so long ago, a friend of mine – during a conversation of the excellent service I had received with Jet, quipped amusingly that she always flew business class in Air India to Mumbai, for the simple reason that “who else would let you put your kids down to sleep on the floor in front of your seat”.!!!!

What a great USP.

India Inc: …

I’ve got a small dilemma that I need your help in resolving. You may be aware that for the last two years or so, I’ve been writing a book on the emergence of Indian companies in international markets, and have profiled ten Indian CEOs / entrepreneurs / promoters such as Narayana Murthy, Baba Kalyani, Subhash Chandra, Malvinder Singh, Kishore Lulla etc. who have lead the charge to globalise their firms.

Well, I’ve now finished writing the book and can now focus on the presentational aspects of the project, of which, the most important being (at least for today) the title of the book. My original choice was: ‘India Inc: How India’s Top Ten Business Leaders are Winning Globally’. However, as a result of the economic downturn, is this title appropriate, given that the world has been turned on it’s head as a result of the banking crisis and subsequent global recession?

It would seem a little to extravagant to use the original title in the environment we’re currently in.

For this reason, I’m searching for something appropriate as a subtitle to ‘India Inc: xyz…’. Or is ‘India Inc.’ substantial enough?

Your ideas are welcome.