International -- Readers Report
INDIA: SMASHING MYTHS AND STEREOTYPES (int'l edition)
Your article ("Investing in India," Cover Story, Aug. 11) is a compliment to Indian consumers. It belies the popular perception of India as a land of snake charmers and the presumption that anything foreign is acceptable to the Indian consumer. The key to the success of any business in any country is to identify and understand your consumer. One cannot expect Indians to start having corn flakes in cold milk in a flash if hot milk is what they have been using for decades. Strange country that India is, with all its history and cultural differences that the author brings out well, it is imperative that companies entering India keep their feet firmly on the ground. They would do better to globalize their reach but localize their operations, as Unilever has done remarkably well.
Yale School of Management
Why should fundamentals of long-term business success be any different in India? Instead of squandering money on sloppy market research and expensive expats, firms should hire brilliant Indian managers who are equally at home in India and in the West.
Chandru R. Chandrasekar
That India is one country is a myth that the world at large needs to explode and understand. The different states in India comprised individual kingdoms and principalities until British rule. They are as diverse in culture, ethnicity, and language as are the different countries in Europe. To be "Indian" is only the same as being "European." Businesses should do feasability studies state by state. Born in Kerala and a sojourner of Madras, this citizen of the U.S. is proud to be an Indian.
Molly Netto, M.D.
Poquoson, Va.Return to top
HOW THE IMF AND WORLD BANK PROMOTE FINANCIAL CHAOS (int'l edition)
The sense of deprivation persisting in underdeveloped countries is indeed due to their spoiled governance, rampant corruption, luxurious living, mismanagement, and other negative aspects ("Western devils aren't the problem in East Asia," Asian Business, Aug. 11).
The underdeveloped countries approach the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for loans to maintain the lifestyle of the few in power. The IMF and World Bank should exert their influence to persuade borrowing countries to adopt positive courses. Alas, the IMF and World Bank concentrate on recovery of their extended loans by pressuring the borrowing governments to levy taxes on populations already under financial stress. In my opinion, the IMF and World Bank wish to remain popular, and that is why they do not discourage loans and show the path of appropriate financial management to borrowing countries.
Rawalpindi, PakistanReturn to top
HONG KONG IS NO EXAMPLE OF LAISSEZ-FAIRE (int'l edition)
I must take issue with the letter from Fok Sang Gien (Readers Report, July 7). Hong Kong was never a true "example of laissez-faire capitalism." On the contrary, this was always a controlled environment in which a benevolent despotism directed the key aspects of life. It insisted on an objective education system open to all and the rule of law. And while the currency was convertible and the capital market open, the financial markets were more tightly regulated than almost anywhere in Asia-Pacific.
Furthermore, the government retained ownership of 99% of all land. Its sales of leases at market prices in the commercial sector enabled it to provide social housing for the great majority of working people at affordable rents to a higher standard than any country in the region. At the same time, all planning and infrastructure projects were totally controlled.
Surely, it was to this unusual blend of freedom and regulation that Hong Kong owes its success, as much as (without depreciating them) the personal sacrifices and the "indignities that have been endured by the nonwhites of Hong Kong."
LondonReturn to top