Advocates for Indian family businesses claim that they can teach a thing or two to the rest of the world, both about family values and about running a business. But family values are not unique to Indians. And family businesses have disadvantages which come from having to put trust over competence. It is interesting to speculate over why there isn’t an Indian Taco Bell—a chain of Indian franchises offering standardised Indian food abroad. Is it because running a franchise model requires the ablility to manage control through arms-length contractual relationships—something that Indians, relying too much on trust-based relationships, are unable to do? Or is it just a matter of time before we have a completely different kind of franchising model, one which relies on all the franchisees being, say, Patels? What will be the impact of the often caste and clan-based cliques that exist in Indian family businesses – especially in the top management- on a world that expects meritocratic hiring?
Increasingly, the rest of the world’s relationship with India will move beyond buying things or getting services performed by them to working for Indians as employees and vendors. To the extent that market transactions involve hierarchy, Indians will increasingly move from playing a subordinate to peer and superior roles. How will this transition play out? We don’t know yet. Countries, as much as people, show their true character when they gain power, and in that sense, India’s true character is yet to be revealed. [Ravikiran Rao/Pragati]
Also in this issue, you will find Salil Tripathi’s argument for global Indian news channels, extracts from Niranjan Rajadhyaksha’s new book, ‘The Rise of India‘, and Chandrahas Choudhury’s review of Discordant Democrats.
(This post is not complete without the lodging of a strong protest against Ravikiran Rao calling himself a lapsed blogger. In the land of Amitabh Bachchan, Chandu Borde and Sivaji – The Boss, such lapses are unacceptable)