The UN theme for International Women’s Day on Saturday is: Equality for women is progress for all. One glance at the FT graphic on women in senior management, published on Friday, suggests this progress is now happening on a global scale – but with some perhaps surprising results.
Chairperson of the Congress-led UPA government Sonia Gandhi (L) talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Getty Images
India does not get a lot of love compared with other Bric countries – particularly China and Brazil. As far as many western investors are concerned, it can be a protectionist, bureaucratic market with plenty of political risk.
That was certainly the mood at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles on a panel of private equity investors. David Bonderman, a founding partner of TPG Capital, put it most forthrightly:
“We stay away from places that have impossible governments and impossible tax regimes, which means Sayonara to India.”
The route to success in corporate India starts early, and it usually goes via business school. That’s one message from new research into the performance of Indian chief executives, from the same stable that brought us what claimed to be the first ranking of the world’s CEOs over their entire tenure.
Insead professors Bala Vissa, Morten Hansen, Herminia Ibarra and Urs Peyer have now produced a compelling ranking of top Indian CEOs, published on Wednesday by Business Today, based on shareholder performance since they took office. It is topped by Naveen Jindal of steel company Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL).
Soon to be available in light blue
The shift of economic power eastwards from crisis-hit developed nations has another milestone: the publisher of Wisden – the annual “bible” of English cricket enthusiasts – is licensing production of an edition tailor-made for the Indian market.
A bit like Hermès, with its recent launch of a range of saris in India, Bloomsbury Publishing and its partner want to recast a western brand for enthusiastic Indian consumers.
The deal – with FidelisWorld FZ, a sports and entertainment management group – comes wrapped in the sort of biz-speak that would make John Wisden, the cricketer who founded the almanack in 1864, shudder. FidelisWorld, says the press statement, “aims to unify the fragmented sectors [of the Indian market for cricket information] into a consolidated whole… thereby achieving synergies and building value”.
No question, for me, about the most interesting business story of the week: the launch in India of a $35 tablet computer called the Aakash (“sky” in Hindi). For perspective, go to the tablet department of Walmart.com, where $35 will buy you – just – a snap-on case for an iPad 2.
For anyone in doubt about the political significance of the announcement, Kapil Sibal, India’s education minister, rammed it home:
The rich have access to the digital world; the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide.
We all know that the world’s economic centre of gravity is moving east as India and China grow rapidly, but Danny Quah of the London School of Economics has managed to draw a map of it.