Globalisation where India holds central place!

Globalisation is now taken for granted. What is not made clear by our planners and policy makers are the fact that globalisation is neither 100 per cent possible or desirable. There are limits to globalisation. The point is whether we in India have realised the full dimensions of the globalisation process.

Our entrepreneurs, more so the new generation IT entrepreneurs have propagated the myth of “world as flat”. The world is not flat. Yes, it is flat and at the same time nationally, still a divergent world.

Ratan Tata, the group chairman of the Tatas is now 69 and has expressed a desire to retire soon. He says it would be a terrific time if he can retire after the Tatas unveil the lakh small car in the mid January.

But Tatas are no ordinary business group. They are old and also value-driven with 65 per cent of their shares held in trust and the group under Ratan Tata (RNT) had made tremendous transformation since the late, legendary J.R.D.Tata. It is now even talked as if RNT had outstripped JRD! Yes, such is the total transformation. Tatas had bought the foreign steel company Corus for a few billions! Now, another one billion (we mean in American dollars of course!)Would be shelled out for the Jaguar and Landrover takeover! These are not just big funds but also big management challenges!

Compared to what RNT inherited 17 years ago was totally different and almost focused totally on India. Now, the Tatas have a large presence overseas, this is globalisation for India now!

But what impressed us is what RNT has said about the Tatas being mainly focused on India! Yes, the Tatas are looked upon as an Indian brand and when the Oriental Express hotels in which the Tatas hold considerable stake “poo-pooled” about the Tatas being an Indian company and India is not associated with a luxury brand like the Orient, there was a howl of protest.

Yes, India is even now looked upon by the outside world, no, it is by the US and UK business prejudices and when the Tatas takeover the Ford(Jaguar owners) and the Corus(British),there is reason to celebrate for India would be ultimately recognised as some brand about which the world would take note from now onwards ,at least!

So, when Tata talked about his vision, it was a vision for India, Tatas being the largest business group in India and also the younger Tata, JRD being a like a father to him, “has kept the group deeply nation-oriented” as noted by Tarun Das, the CII mentor and an industry insider of long years. The irony is that the thought that troubles RNT today is that it is much easier to invest abroad than in India!
Yes, the environment in India, in spite of the economic reforms etc. there are restrictive situations, the Tata’s steel plant in Orissa is caught with opposition from local peasant over allotting the iron ore mines and Tata says that it is this that holds them up from expanding faster inside India.

The same is said of other industrialists too.
However, Tata is not just a steel Lakshmi Mittal or any other basic metals ore miners!

So, what Tatas do would contribute to make India a stronger nation economically and in terms of business values.

In the same vein Anil Ambani, the Reliance’s younger son and heir to Dhiru Bhai Ambani’s legacy, like his elder brother Mukesh Ambani, is highly focused on India being his focus.

On the eve of the Reliance Power IPO campaign he emphasised the fact that Indian market would be his focus and he spoke inspiringly about how the Indian youth by 2030 would be the biggest number and so too the Reliance shareholders are also the biggest in the corporate history of any country!

So, Ambani junior like his brother is everywhere, in  energy, power and telecom ,not to speak of the petrochemicals, petroleum and oil and gas ,as Reliance is a dominant player even now. And what is more, as Anil noted, that Reliance is now such a big draw, as ever, on the Mumbai Stock Exchange, it is Reliance that drives the Indian capital market.

That means that every ordinary small time investor is looked upon Reliance to deliver him values on his or her investments. This, Reliance does, says Anil,”on a sustainable basis”!

While Indian economic development is much talked about what is not made clear to the wider public is the fact that it is groups like the Tatas and the Reliance that are strongly nation-focused and even nationalistic in their instincts.
It is a fashion now to talk of globalisation and going global. There are many Indian companies that are now going global, many have strongly invested and focused on global footprint, like L.N.Mittal and others.

Also there is this opportunity and also some danger in the MNCs coming into India to more exploit the cheap labour, rather than contribute to India’s strengths.
Also, the fact that globalisation, as pointed by a Harvard visiting Indian management guru, is not fully global. There is still national borders matter! Except for financial sector expansions across borders and also technology, there are areas like even trade where you find restrictive mindsets.

There are also lessons from the recent globalising trends. Look, Africa didn’t benefit from the globalisation process!

World poor are being pushed to more deprivation, Global disparities have grown. Cross border flow of trade and tourism have also brought with them HIV/AIDS/SARS and avian flu. Labour dislocation, migrant labour racial discrimination and in other areas like agriculture and fishing, there are dislocations, food shortages leading to food prices rise, also marine species depleted and no effective rule enforcing mechanism in place. Famines are still now a reality, with the world over many nations has come to enjoy a rise in average per capita incomes.

The projected number of people below a dollar a day poverty line will fall, from current 1.1 billion to 500 million by 2030.Still as on date this number is unacceptable for a civilised world. Right?
Globalisation is not roses all the way! There are also troubling questions all the way!

Green house gases and climate warming are impacting our lives and no consensus on solving these issues either! One can be a pessimist or choose to be an optimist, only in some narrow way!
A globalised world is not free from terror or wars or war-like behaviours on the parts of nations!

Also, strategic and security reasons play a role. Even the US has restricted foreign investments in strategic areas like ports, airports, electronic equipment manufacturing, there are deep distrusts among nations. Chinese investments are restricted even in the US.

So, what we have to realise is that even in times of speedy globalisation as of now, there are India-focused issues. These issues not just concern about making India a strong economic power, we have also to see that we make some sectors, from high technologies to even food production, strictly from out national, strategic and geo-political freedoms and political and strategic decision -makings.

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