Please visit www.vikaspota.com for my new blogsite

•November 5, 2009 • Comments Off on Please visit www.vikaspota.com for my new blogsite

You may also wish to visit www.indiaincthebook.com for more info on my book

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The traits of entrepreneurship

•September 3, 2009 • 2 Comments

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

•September 2, 2009 • Comments Off on 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.

Batteries charged…

•September 2, 2009 • Comments Off on Batteries charged…

Returned from my summer vacation yesterday with batteries fully charged, apologies for my silence over the past few weeks.

The next six months are going to be exciting, please keep on following this blog for updates as they occur.

India Inc: How India’s Top 10 Entrepreneurs Are Winning Globally

•August 12, 2009 • 3 Comments

India Jkt.qxd:Valley Boy

TATA secures private funding for JLR

•August 12, 2009 • Comments Off on TATA secures private funding for JLR

Given all the flack that’s been flying about for eternity about the terms being imposed by the British Government on Tata for a loan to save JLR, I was pleased to read that Tata has secured non-government finance for JLR, which I’m sure would’ve been their first choice of funding, in any case.

In Tata’s benefit, I’d like to add that their track record demonstrates their commitment to fairness and responsible behaviour. They, themselves, wouldn’t have wanted taxpayer money, unless they were in such dire straits, as has been the case with JLR.

However, Mandelson was right to ensure that the benefit of any funds has to favour the taxpayer. He’s played a great game in ensuring that Tata work harder to secure funding from other sources.

For me what has been remarkable is the way and extent that Tata have used the media to get their points across. Generally speaking, Indian CEO’s shoot from the hip and everything Tata has said on-air has been well scripted and spoken. Take for example Ratan Tata’s appearance on Sky News in which he asked the government not to “play chicken with him”. Such articulation is rare in Indian business circles.

Full marks to his advisers.

India season cometh (again)

•July 31, 2009 • Comments Off on 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 😉