Comment: Is big really better?

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Mickey Charles, president and CEO of real–time sports wire service The Sports Network (TSN), based in Philadelphia, US, presents his personal views on business opportunities (or not) in India.

"The debate has raged on for years, decades, perhaps centuries, and it centres about whether size is everything. Well, is it? I guess it depends upon the subject matter and, that being said, the wry smile on your face is a dead giveaway concerning the depths of your mind. In this case, we are speaking of countries, destinations, potential working environments or virtual extensions of your corporate machinations. Is there opportunity for you away from the nest that you find so comfortable, engaging, secure and convenient? I guess it all depends. On what? Your tolerance level. Head off to China with plans to do business there, open a satellite office, retain local talent to represent you or work for you and be prepared for the inevitable. What you are told at breakfast changes by lunch and is forgotten by dinner, when you have to start all over. Hire someone local to be your authoritative plenipotentiary and you might find him driving a new Ferrari on your next visit and living in an expensive condominium in the midst of Beijing while your anticipated profit picture, carefully orchestrated and expected, just went into the toilet. Is that an all–consuming castigation of China? Not really but pretty close. When we are speaking size and real technological talent at a pittance of the cost you are enduring now, whether in the US or abroad, there is only one destination, one place, one country that comes to mind. India. Regardless of the need or approach, sports or business, what is the imaginable and implicit advantage of either relocating or extending? That is the conundrum. Consider the fact that you have anxiety pains when moving down the street to embrace larger space for your growing venture. Or, do you not recall the last conversation...presuming it was that and not hand–to–hand verbal sparring with your wife...when you mentioned, just suggested, thinking about looking for a new home. India? The fact that the country will host the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi is commendable, or that it has a thriving movie industry in Bollywood (now there's an original name!) creating some seriously rich locals, is not negated by the tragic events in the subcontinent and the Indian Premiere League finding a new home in South Africa. It is balance...good versus bad. The Games are an event and the movie industry enticing if you are there and in place. But the fact remains, the above aside...good and bad...that India has become the home of the call centre. Seek out information on your credit card and chances are that you, in London or New York, are speaking to someone in India, the Philippines or similarly located geographic locales but none nearly as large as India. My opinion is that India is to be utilised, not embraced as your next home. Pretty harsh words from someone that has never been there. Do I really have to skydive to know that it is fraught with danger? When asked to bungee jump, how long will it take most of us to opt out? No matter how many times I see "Slumdog Millionaire" will I credit the movie industry there and the enjoyment of the movie or will it be the spider web that ensnares me to rush to India in the morning? Only if I am in the movie business and believe I can compete with the establishment there. Can you adapt the culture overnight when you have trouble agreeing with colleagues in your own company, industry and neighbourhoods? Are you ready for an entirely new way of life, for that is what comes with relocating? Will any of your employees, especially the key ones, make the move or rush to the classified ads and human resource departments of your competition? Don't reply...you know the answer. If the economy of India grows exponentially more power to them and you can, with clear conscience, be content and somewhat proud for what you avail yourself of there regarding resources that lends to that. Make a movie there if you can partner with a local production company. Create a mobile product to reach the vast market that exists in a country where mobile communication is what food is in other venues. Even if India hosts an Olympics games in the future, it is for visitors and worldwide awareness that goes beyond what is known about India presently. But even that, the Olympics, will be a façade for the moment. And then it is gone. A magical moment created by David Copperfield. By all means, visit India. Stay in New Delhi, take in the sacred River Ganges, discover the Golden Triangle, visit the most romantic city in Rajasthan, Udalpur and, of course, there is the Taj Mahal. Take photos and try to make it to Kashmir, Mumbai, Calcutta or to one of over 93 national parks. India is the largest back office in the world. It costs less and the people are reliable. Better than China but not enough incentive to relocate. My message is simple: use them but do not abuse them. "

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