Opinion / Web Comments

An incredible journey through India (I)

By Marcos Fava Neves (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2013-04-09 12:58

Almost two weeks traveling in four big cities (Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi) and several rural villages of India is an incredible and unforgettable experience. My learning was present in every street, road, building, sightseeing, taxi driving or whatever interaction with its people and geography.

The consumption details of this very diverse society were perceived at every meal, either taken in the luxury Taj Hotels restaurants, in booming fast foods or in small villages, with farmers. After this visit I came back convinced that in several places of the world we will see changes in the next 10-20 years, but seems to me that India will have the leading speed of changes. In India, definitely things will happen.

Walk on the streets feeling that you are in a country of more than 1,2 billion inhabitants place, that grows almost 2 million people per month, or 20 million in a year, or one South Africa each two and a half years, or one Brazil each 10 years or even… one USA in 15 years is… unique.

Being the world’s fourth largest economy based on purchasing power parity and growing from 6 to 10% per year in terms of GDP, we may imagine that in ten years from now we will have one more India in place.

It is a large economy of still poor people, having very unusual consumption patterns. This characteristic takes us to lots of people consuming products occasionally or at small portions. It is, for most of its population, a business with low margins but large volumes. India means a large aggregation of small parts.

It is quite a heterogeneous society, a unique cocktail, difficult to be found. And this heterogeneity seems to be increasing due to the internationalization of Indian society. We see the mix of local diverse culture with occidental culture coming in with Indian’s students coming back from experiences abroad, fast food chains moving in, web access and other facts.

India has gone through an impressive process of information and technology, so people are connected, mostly the younger generations from all social classes. An Indian economist told that 40% of the population has access to toilets but 50% to mobile phones. They are typing all time and talking.

It is a well-known country for its business process outsourcing, for building up smart solutions, a service driven society, which definitely changes the way companies do business, offer services or charge for guarantees. India has interesting small business models, from people dedicated to cook, going to houses, dedicated to laundry, clothing, whatever.

India is also famous for its micro-credit initiatives and huge programs of financial inclusion using the bank system, based on technology platforms.

My taxi drivers during these days showed an incredible performance in the unique experience to face the streets and roads in India. I can’t understand why India doesn’t have Formula 1 champions. The culture of the “horn” is a nice way to manage a mess that is in some way organized. They were always nice people (of course sometimes with a poor English) and offered a creative free service. Whenever I needed them, they told me that I should phone they wouldn’t take the call and would come to the place to pick me up. This is the “missed call” movement. All for free!

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