Campaign India Team
May 07, 2009

The world is bigger than the country we live in

I was reading Anant’s blog on campaignindia.in on how Indian colleagues should empathize with their global counterparts and was wondering why people would, or perhaps, would not.It got me back to my old thought on how we Indians define markets. Think about it, ask any marketer what he thinks is the market size of his product or service brand.

The world is bigger than the country we live in

I was reading Anant’s blog on campaignindia.in on how Indian colleagues should empathize with their global counterparts and was wondering why people would, or perhaps, would not.

It got me back to my old thought on how we Indians define markets. Think about it, ask any marketer what he thinks is the market size of his product or service brand.

The answer typically will be a number that corresponds to the country of India as a market. Have we ever asked why is it India, why not Maharashtra, why not South Asia, why not the whole world?

The answer in my mind lies in how we have grown up and got educated. Most of us grow up reading subjects like History, Geography in our growing years. And if you remember, we always read about Indian History, Indian Geography – how many states, union territories, etc.

The unit of geography that we grow up with has always been predominantly the Indian Territory.

When I was with ET (a few years back now), I remember a presentation by Nandan Nilekani of Infosys to our colleagues in the Times building. He spoke for about an hour, with lots of data and statistics and his amazing clarity of thoughts.

What struck me was that all his numbers and figures were global figures. Not a single figure he quoted was Indian and all the references were global.

Very clearly, the Infosys team never thought India to be the only market and it really made them stand apart. The sad part is that most marketers and entrepreneurs don’t think that way and we land up with a myopic view of our markets.

The issue lies in our thinking – ethnicism versus globalization. It’s important to know our roots, our country, our society, our consumer behaviour. But its also important not to limit our thoughts and imagination to just the country we live in.

Going forward, how can we see more Indian companies going global and making companies transnationals?

How do we see more Indian managers taking top slots in these corporations?

A day should come when we don’t only count Indra Nooyis and Vikram Pandits and have several of them head Indian multinationals — so many of them that it would be difficult to recall their names.

The answer could lie in a change in thinking.

Post independence, the country believed in developing indigenous production and import substitution. That, certainly, was the need of the hour — at that time.

But times have changed. The generation that’s entering the business today thinks differently.

Where could we seed the thoughts so that we start seeing the globe as the market?

I was chatting with my wife who teaches in one of the tony south Bombay schools. The new IGCSE curriculum does not have Indian history as a subject.

It has something called India Studies – which deals with India and its external relations, with South Asian neighbours and that also with the rest of the world. The Geography syllabus also is more global with a lot of emphasis on the rest of the world, unlike the narrow focus that was prevalent a few decades ago.

Maybe the answer lies in the way we design our education system.

It’s important that we start thinking of the globe as our market place and not just India.

Maybe we will see the next generation thinking differently and watch them as they lead India to the global marketplace.

Partho Das Gupta can be contacted at parthodasgupta@gmail.com

Source:
Campaign India

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