With its unrivalled, unrelenting growth rate (a minimum of 6% since 2013) and ambitious economic policy, it is unsurprising that India is ranked the number 1 investment destination in the world.
Striving for superpower status by 2030, Prime Minister Modi’s regime has already delivered a sharp increase in jobs, manufacturing and foreign direct investment (FDI), owing to initiatives like Make in India, Skill India, Smart Cities and Digital India. And with the current high priority that both Australia and India are placing on their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), the foundations for a strong bilateral relationship are being firmly laid.
In short, there has never been a better time for Australia to do business with India. However, trading between these two nations is not without its challenges. India’s range of official religions, each with their own set of customs, gender-sensitivities, and even public holidays (!), have implications for the entire Australian business plan. Not to mention cultural idiosyncrasies like India’s inclination towards poly- versus mono- chronism, and varying attitudes towards bureaucracy, for example.
“Research can only prepare you so far” states Sue Freeman of Australian Retail College (ARC).
“To do business in India, it’s all about good local contacts and that all-important, nitty gritty local knowledge”.
Baffled as to why their uptake of higher education courses was so low among girls, the ARC took a while to realise that their lack of female staff was to blame. Simply hiring a female support officer remarkably increased female attendance, and therefore income.
“Local knowledge and contacts are also vital for Operations and HR”, adds Freeman. Revising their business model and hiring a native Operations Manager helped the ARC to weed out small-scale misconduct, such as inappropriate requests for materials and annual leave.
Economic differences should also not be underestimated, according to Freeman. “It’s all about getting the business model right” she states. “Lower price points mean that businesses must operate on a large scale to be viable.”
With the huge potential for bilateral prosperity in industries such as Mining, Education, Tourism, Health, Agribusiness, Technology, Infrastructure and Professional Services, it is important that we continue to build and further develop the Australia-India relationship and not let cultural idiosyncrasies get the better of us.
The Australia India Business Council’s Engaging with India conference, in partnership with the Australian Financial Review, aims to tackle some of the fundamental challenges of doing business in India, as well as ascertain opportunities for Australian businesses.
In addition to a macro-level analysis of trade relations, investment opportunities, and economic policy, the conference will explore the important intricacies of undertaking business in India, and how we can exploit a mutual love of cricket!