What’s boring is a mega-trend

What’s a mega-trend? Most new trends are marked by rival claims, with some claiming it’s a revolutionary breakthrough and others saying it is disastrous. But if a new trend grows so rapidly that it becomes commonplace and ceases to make big headlines, then I would call it a very big development, a mega-trend. If news items that ten years ago would have dominated the front page are now tucked away in the inner pages of newspapers, it signifies a huge change in expectations and the national mind-set.

So in this column I am going to do something that readers might regard as boring. I am going to list international business news stories that appeared in Indian newspapers on a single day last week, January 11.

Why have I chosen June 11? Because it was a routine day when nothing exceptional happened in international business news. The front page of financial newspapers that day was dominated by the quarterly results of Reliance Industries, and by the prospect of Jet Airways buying Air Sahara. As for news on global business transactions, January 11 was a run-of-the-mill day. Many readers might yawn on reading the news list.

Yet each one of these news items would have blazed on the front page ten years ago, and would have sparked much controversy. The fact that such news items have become a somewhat boring daily list is to me proof of a mega-trend, proof that India’s globalisation has succeeded to the point of becoming a commonplace bore.

News items on January 11.

  1. Oracle is planning to hire 1,400 more people in India over the next 8 months.
  2. Leo Burnett will launch its below-the- line integrated specialist unit, Arc, in India.
  3. The Kodak Health Group is planning to make India its global hub to outsource all creative and marketing services.
  4. Ranbaxy has entered into a co-marketing agreement with Switzerland’s Ferring International for Desmopressin, used for urology disorders.
  5. Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd is planning to acquire an equity stake in a Chinese telecom company.
  6. Amtek Auto has acquired UK-based Tyco Forgings for $ 5 million and will shift that company’s production line to Pune. Amtek has already made five foreign acquisitions in the last two years.
  7. Voltas, along with Japan’s Hitachi and UAE’s ETA has won a $272.3 million contract for Dubai’s tower project.
  8. Satyam Computers has signed an $8 million animation deal with Germany-based 4K Animation GmbH, an animation company.
  9. Brand Portrait, an advertising agency, has bagged the account for the Indian subsidiary of UK-based iSoft Group, which provides healthcare software.
  10. India’s National Dairy Development Board has signed an agreement with Sri Lanka’s Gemidiriya Foundation to implement a dairy project in that country.
  11. The Indian subsidiary of Germany’s Bosch Group is launching a new development center in Bangalore.
  12. The Oil and Natural Gas Corp is planning to sign an agreement for cooperation with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) this week.
  13. Bangladesh is going to negotiate with BPCL for supply of fuel.
  14. Taiwan’s Sanyang is acquiring an 11% equity stake in Kinetic Motors through a preferential allotment of shares.
  15. Geometric Software has announced that US-based Teksoft will be distributor of its software products in the US.
  16. Andhra Bank is planning to open an overseas representative office in Dubai.
  17. Britain’s Tesco and France’s Carrefour, both retail giants, are planning wholesale (cash and carry) outlets in India.
  18. Bajaj Auto is planning to enter the Nigerian market with an assembly plant.
  19. Renault-Nissan, the global major covering France and Japan, is going to source auto components from India.
  20. GKN Drivelines of the UK is planning fresh investment in south India for expanding production of drivelines for the local auto industry.

Now, let me clarify that not all these news items on June 11 were entirely new. Some (like Tesco and Carrefour wanting to set up wholesale outlets) had already been indicated in earlier news reports. Even so, I find it remarkable that these stories, describing a pretty major globalisation of India, were put in the inside pages by financial dailies, and skipped altogether by general newspapers.

To me, this is a megatrend. It has made irrelevant the earlier agonising of politicians and intellectuals about the need to protect India from the disasters of globalisation, and of the coming collapse of small Indian businesses as in the face of western multinationals. The fact is that even small and medium Indian companies are becoming multinationals, and so are public sector outfits. India is returning to its pre-British Raj glory as a leading industrial and mercantile power of the world. Far from collapsing under the brute force of western multinationals, India is all set to create some of the biggest and most dynamic multinationals itself.

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