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Op-Ed by Dean Ravi Kumar, KAIST Business School, for MK English News​
View : 7402 Date : 2010-02-04 Writer : ed_news

 

Professor Ravi Kumar, Dean of Business School at KAIST, wrote an op-ed for MK English News, dated February 3, 2010, on "Korea’s doing business in India".  Below is his article:

India: Opportunity or Frustration?

by Dr. Ravi Kumar, Dean of KAIST Business School
 
On January 26, President Lee Myung-bak was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade and festivities, an honor that has been bestowed on Vladimir Putin of Russia and Nicolas Sarkozy of France in recent years. President Lee signed a strategic partnership agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was successful in getting the Indian government to issue permits for POSCO to break ground on their US$ 12 billion steel plant and is positioning Korea as a serious contender in India’s future purchase of nuclear power plants and trainer aircraft. Doosan Heavy was successful in getting a billion dollar order last week to build a coal-fired power plant in India and Hyundai Motors has doubled its car production capacity in Chennai with 20% Indian market share. Samsung and LG have dominant market share in the Indian consumer electronics and home appliances sector, hiring thousands of Indians this year to support their growth. Wow, all this points to India and Korea on target to double their trade to US$ 30 billion by 2014.
 
Last week, a group of our KAIST IMBA students with considerable business experience interviewed me for one of their class projects. Their topic: Indian culture/society and its impact on doing business in India. One of their questions probed the notion of time in Indian culture and business etiquette since they had heard that Indians are not on time for appointments/meetings. I had to explain to them that India originated from one of the oldest civilization (Indus Valley) that goes back five thousand years and this is one reason that allows Indians to think of time as being continuous and forever. Another aspect of culture that impacts Indian sense of endless time is that of re-incarnation—Indians who are predominantly Hindus believe that one is reborn again and again until one lives a purely spiritual life and becomes one with the divine being. And finally, Indians believe in fate, that their past lives (and sometimes, where the planets were located when they were born) define, in some sense, the kind of life they are going to lead in this current life. Given these three factors, there is no sense of “palli palli” in Indian life and this can be very frustrating to foreigners.
 
So, my advice to Korean companies and executives--have a lot of patience and be ready for endless diversity. The country that can send sophisticated moon probes can also not have electricity or clean water for millions of its citizens. When you travel from one state to another, beware that the actual language, food preparation, philosophy of government and even clothing that people wear may differ remarkably. India is really like the European Union, with different languages, different state governments, different cultures and a lot of the infrastructure still to be built. An opportunity, you bet—but tomorrow, maybe not!

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