A Case Of Reverse Imperialism from India – by Forbes

Beware India’s manifest destiny.

 Though still labeled an emerging market, one could argue that the Indian economy has already emerged. According to Forbes’ list of international billionaires, four of the top 10 are Indian. And with an annualized five-year total return of 42.2%, Forbes ranked India second after Brazil in its assessment of the growth of the world’s largest public companies. The U.K., with a growth percentage of 17.1%, and the U.S., with 11.1%, occupy two of the last three spots on that list. The balance of power is starting to shift.

 This discrepancy is understandable given the context; it is more difficult for established companies in the U.S. and U.K. to grow as quickly as those expanding from nothing, as is the case for start-up companies in India. Nevertheless, these figures highlight an important trend. As the Indian economy continues to spread its wings, its companies are turning to new international markets.

 Could this be the beginning of a reverse imperialism?

 During the 18th century, the British first annexed and then colonized India, seeking to exploit the subcontinent’s vast natural resources and to expand trade. Tea became an important commodity and came to symbolize British colonial rule.

 How times have changed.

 In 2000, Tata Tea–a member of India’s Tata Group conglomerate of 27 publicly listed companies–bought Tetley, the U.K.’s largest tea company. Tata Tea now represents the second largest tea manufacturer in the world by volume, surpassed only by London- and Rotterdam-based Unilever.

 What is driving India’s expansion? “Unlike China where companies are state- and government-led, in India, it is people’s own money,” says Tarun Khanna, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours.

 In March, another subsidiary of the Tata Group, Tata Motors (nyse: TTM – news – people ), acquired Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor (nyse: F – news – people ) for $2.3 billion. It’s another example of originally-British brands being scooped up by an old colonial friend. While the two brands will continue to follow their own business plans, Tata Motors hopes they will boost the company’s ability to be a “meaningful player in the global market,” says Debasis Ray, head of corporate communications at Tata Motors.

 The company recently unveiled its Nano model in New Delhi. Touted as “the people’s car,” the small four-seater with a price tag of $2,500 is said to be the least expensive car in the world.

 The monetary muscle behind the quest for new horizons is fuelled by a cheap domestic labor market and Indian companies’ high price-to-earnings ratios, according to Khanna. Smaller Indian companies can more easily collaborate with bigger counterparts in other markets–even those in other former colonies.

 Last week India’s biggest telecom, Bharti Airtel, called off merger talks with South Africa’s largest provider of cellphone service, MTN Group, citing disagreements over the terms of the deal. Reliance Communications, India’s second-largest telecom, subsequently announced it was entering talks with the South African company. A resulting MTN-Reliance merger would result in over 100 million customers, a larger network than AT&T.

 The shared colonial past, actually, is an advantage. The British Empire, Khanna believes, created a legacy whose repercussions are felt in India and in Africa’s eastern and southern regions. “Imperialism is laying the seeds of global chess, with Indian companies naturally capitalizing on their shared history,” he says.

 Perhaps other nations should prepare for a new breed of imperialism. This time, we will be pouring the tea.

 Courtesy:- Forbes



  1. 1
    M Clerk Says:

    Any benefit from colonialism?! An elite which speaks no language except second rate English and cannot read Indian lit? Or prides itself on communicating well with the west or knowing which fork to use?

    Pl see and post to T Khanna:

    Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World (Hardcover) by Mike Davis

    Hard to over rate the importance of this book, August 29, 2002

    Reviewer: Ken McCarthy (New York)

    ‘There have been droughts and other major agricultural failures in China, India, and Africa for millennium, but the accompanying mass starvations and ecological catastrophes that we tend to associate with these regions did not start occurring in earnest until the British Empire imposed its ‘free’ market discipline on these societies using the end of the barrel of a gun as their means of persuasion.

    Who shaped the glass through which most of us unconsciously consider India, China, and Africa? 19th century Brits. Their strategy was simple: paint the citizens of these places as ignorant, progress-resisting savages, then rob them blind and, when they starve by the millions, as they also did in conquered Ireland, tell the world it can’t be helped.

    The episodes Davis writes about are in many ways still ongoing because the pattern of ecological mismanagement and social disintegration set off by the British in these regions has become the ‘modern’ norm. We’re just one shift in the weather from even larger catastrophes.’Quoted from Amazon.com

    Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime

    By Veena Talwar Oldenburg, Oxford University Press USA. Dr Oldenburg is Associate Professor of History of India at the City University of New York.

    ‘The Hindu custom of dowry has long been blamed for the murder of wives and female infants in India. Dr. Oldenburg argues that these killings are neither about dowry nor reflective of an Indian culture or caste system that encourages violence against women. Rather, such killings can be traced directly to the influences of the British colonial era. In the precolonial period, dowry was an institution managed by women, for women, to enable them to establish their status and have recourse in an emergency. As a consequence of the massive economic and societal upheaval brought on by British rule, women’s entitlements to the precious resources obtained from land were erased and their control of the system diminished, ultimately resulting in a devaluing of their very lives. Taking us on a journey into the colonial Punjab, Veena Oldenburg skillfully follows the paper trail left by British bureaucrats to indict them for interpreting these crimes against women as the inherent defects of Hindu caste culture. The British, Oldenburg claims, publicized their “civilizing mission” and blamed the caste system in order to cover up the devastation their own agrarian policies had wrought on the Indian countryside….’ Quoted from Amazon.com

  2. 2
    M Clerk Says:

    Oops forgot. Most Indian media folk do not know the meaning of imperialism, apartheid or even colonialism. It is taking over someone’s country, looting it and calling it bringing civilization. Do not think Indian companies are doing that, simply trading respectfully and legally.

  3. 3
    battakiran Says:

    I do not believe Indian companies doing that. This is an assumption based on few incidents from Forbes people which may or may not happen.

  4. 4
    Asha Says:

    Mukesh Ambani is simply making a big noise over nothing.Its just a jealous older brother trying to hamper a prosperous younger brothers growth. The claims made by Reliance Industries Limited are baseless and were based on an agreement in 2006, which was signed only by Reliance Industries officials and was later overturned by the Bombay High Court.
    This deal would would create one of the world’s largest emerging-markets telecom operators with 115m subscribers spread across Africa, India and the Middle East.

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