Update on 'India Inc: How India's Top 10 Entrepreneurs Are Winning Globally'

Having completed writing my book and thinking that I’d fulfilled my end of the bargain, I’ve been even busier with other things related to this project. With advice from friends like Mark Kobayashi – Hillary & Alpesh Patel, who’re both serial authors, I’ve managed to make some headway in thinking about the promotion of the book.

So far, the book has received great feedback from esteemed and respected figures like Jim O’ Neill – author of the BRICs report & Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs; Lynn Forrester de Rothschild – of the banking family; Dean Dipak Jain – management guru at Kellogg School of Management; Chandrajit Banerjee – Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry.. and a few more.

My next step in mastering how to use social media tools like Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter in the promotion of the book. It’s lucky that my firm – www.saffronchase.com, has just launched a service that espouses the use of these tools for improving PR and government relations campaigns!

I’m meeting my publisher and his Indian distributor next week to discuss what we’re planning in India. Thinking of a tour of the key cities and university campuses in Feb / March 2010. Is this a good idea?

I’ve also been approached by an international bank with an offer to, potentially, sponsor the book launches globally. Looks like there’s going to be a lot of interest from sponsors for this type of book and the audience it could bring to them.

As a first time author, the experience has been fascinating. I may have been naive in thinking that all I had to do was write a book, but it’s proving to be fun and am looking forward to the journey.

The traits of entrepreneurship

Having completed writing a book about some of India’s biggest and most successful entrepreneurs, I was asked about what differentiates them from the rest, which isn’t as straight forward to answer as it seems.

However, having attended an event yesterday evening hosted by my friend Deepak Haria at Deloitte for the promotion of  TATA Jagriti, which is an Indian NGO that literally takes a trainload of enterprising Indian youth across India (on a yatra / journey) to expose them to subjects of importance to India’s development and introduces them to entrepreneurial thinking, I’m pleased to say that this question was posed, albeit in a different way, to Mr Gopalakrishnan who is a Board Director of TATA (http://www.tata.com/aboutus/articles/inside.aspx?artid=vyj45RCRud4=).

He was asked whether the Jagriti Sansthan – the NGO (http://www.jagritiyatra.com) – equips the participants in political skills that help them overcome political problems, which the TATA man rebutted by explaining that a programme like the yatra doesn’t aspire in providing such training, as in his mind, entrepreneurs – by definition – find ways, by themselves, to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

Interesting, I thought.

Let me know what you think characterises a successful entrepreneur. Please leave your comments on this post.

Impact of Monsoon rains on the Indian economy

Was interviewed by Al Jazeera today on the impact of the monsoon on the Indian economy. I said there were a few things to note:

The impact of a poor monsoon is huge. India has approx 240 MILLION farmers, and an average of 60% of the labour market is dependent on the agriculture sector – directly & indirectly. Water is important to their livelihoods.

The problem is that the monsoon pattern is changing. Instead of long rains on a regular basis, India now experiences short, heavy showers with long dry periods inbetween, the risk of flooding and paradoxically, drought is increased.

The Indian government needs to look at strategic ways to help farmers. Instead of dishing out seeds and providing subsidies, they need to look at the ways in which rainwater can be captured, stored, and distributed more effectively. Only 30% of all agricultural land is irrigated, imagine if they could improve this figure!

The second way is to educate the farming community about new technologies available to improve their harvests, such as installing sprinkler irrigation systems or extending what the ITC group has done with enabling farmers to get latest market data on their mobiles that allows them to set the right prices for their crops.

Lastly, improve access to microfinance, in which small ticket loans could be provided for investments in technology & know how.

What’s also evident is that around the time of Indian independence,  India used to be wholly dependent on the agri sector. However, as time moves on India’s dependency has declined to around a level where agriculture accounts for almost 20% of her GDP. My point is that India knows it needs to reduce its dependency on the monsoon to deliver a bumper harvest, and has been doing so gradually.

I read a really interesting note, which will help me conclude this post. A bad monsoon isn’t just bad for India, but for the whole world. We need to look at the agri-food sector like a Rubiks cube, in which if you change one face of the cube, you inevitably create changes on the other sides of the same cube. In a similar vein, a decline in, for example, rice production has an impact on the cost of wheat in North America – after all we live in an increasingly interdependent world.