Seminar | 18 May 2003

In India Unbound I wrote about how India embraced democracy first and capitalism afterwards and this had made all the difference.1 India became a full-fledged democracy in 1950, with universal suffrage and extensive human rights, but it was not until 1991 that it opened up to a freer play of capitalist forces. This unique reversal, I think, explains a great deal about Indian society today, and particularly why the pace of reforms is so painfully slow.

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Seminar | 11 September 2002

The essay attempts to address the following issues related to the structure of Indian business:

1) Indian business is overwhelmingly owned and managed by families. Is a family firm necessarily at a disadvantage versus a professionally managed firm? Will an economy based on smaller family business grow slower or be disadvantaged compared to one based on large professional companies?

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Outlook | 26 February 2002

Medha M. Kudaisya, The life and Times of G.D. Birla, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2003, 434 pages, Rs

Owning a dynamic, indigenous entrepreneurial group like the Marwaris would seem to give India a competitive advantage in the world economy, yet the Marwari has never quite won the respect from Indian society that he has yearned for. Most Indians know him as the furtive shopkeeper around the corner. Like the Jew in old Europe he is the moneylender of last resort, who charges extortionate interest and dispossesses widows of their land and jewellery when the loan is not repaid. Or he is perceived as the ruthless tycoon who did not stop at anything, including the pre-empting of licences during the hypocritical forty years of the Licence Raj.

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Outlook | 26 February 2002

On Tuesday September 11th I was visiting my aged mother in a village in northwest India, at her guru's ashram by the banks of the river Beas, when my son called from China. “Turn on the TV,” he said, and we began to watch in stunned disbelief the barbarous tragedy unfolding on the other side of the globe. The second tower of New York's World Trade Center came down before our eyes. After the initial horror had passed, I felt like many Indians that perhaps now the world might begin to understand what we have been going through. For over a decade we have been victims of Taliban trained terrorism that has taken hundreds of innocent lives.

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Harvard Business Review | 06 March 1993

 

There was a time when I used to believe with Diogenes the Cynic that “I am a citizen of the world,” and I used to strut about feeling that a “blade of grass is always a blade of grass, whether in one country or another.: Now I feel that each blade of grass has its spot on earth from where it draws its life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land from where he draws his faith, together with his life.

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