India’s smart tycoons are the `knockout punch’ against China

April 17th, 2008 - 11:13 am ICT by admin  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, April 17 (IANS) Heaping praise on India’s billionaire business leaders, a major Canadian newspaper said Wednesday that they could take India ahead of China in the battle for economic supremacy in the 21st century. In the Globe and Mail, which is the most respected Canadian newspaper, columnist Marcus Gee said the genius of its business leaders will be India’s “knockout punch in the title bout 21st century business”.

It said that though China was way ahead of India in exports, infrastructure development, foreign investment and energy consumption, India might surpass it in the long run because of its “smart, ambitious, and forward-looking” business leaders.

Thanks to their genius, it said, India, which was an “economic washout” just two decades ago, now has more billionaires than Japan.

“India has 53, up from 34 the year before. Four Indian billionaires are on the Top 10 list of the world’s richest people, more than any other country can claim.”

The newspaper said Indians were now accumulating money faster than the Japanese did in the 1980s and the Chinese in the 1990s.

Citing how Mukesh Ambani gifted his wife Neena an Airbus worth $60 million on her 44th birthday, it said Indian business leaders were no longer shy to flaunt their wealth. Even more impressive than their wealth, it said, was their leadership of their companies.

“It’s the way they are taking their companies, and in the process their country, forward. The companies they are building are not just big, bold and brawny in the Chinese model, but smart, nimble and surprisingly modern,” it said.

Describing his meetings with Ratan Tata and Azim Premji, Globe and Mail columnist Marcuss Gee said: “With men like these behind them, India may land the last blow.”

Despite his great achievements - making the world’s cheapest car Nano, and acquiring Tetley Tea, the Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus and the British Jaguar and Land Rover brands, the columnist said Tata is not given to hyperbole.

“He doesn’t expect Tata to become a global brand like Sony or Coca-Cola.” But by producing the $2,500 Nano, he has set new standards in creativity, which “other companies are rushing to imitate, not just in India but around the world”.

Referring to the Tatas’ legendary honesty and strict business values, the newspaper quoted Ratan Tata as fearing that the group might abandon them once he was not on the scene.

“I think the day we do that we have lost everything,” he was quoted as saying.

Azim Premji came in for praise for his “vision of a bold, innovative, ethical company.”

Discipline and modernity are Wipro’s hallmarks, the columnist said.

Premji “encourages managers and employees to share all possible information with each other and to disagree openly with higher ups, something that goes against the grain in hierarchical India.

“He invests heavily in training and retraining, fosters innovation and excellence, rewards success with stock and other bonuses and keeps a tight rein on costs (managers fly economy and often stay in guest houses or company suites instead of hotels).

“The result is a lean, smart, progressive company that few in China could match and that many in North America might envy.”

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