India needs to offer global brands to compete with China

Kumar Mangalam Birla and Anand Mahindra want Indian companies to establish global brands to compete with China.

“If we have to build brand India, India will need to build global brands. We have to leapfrog China and start doing that quickly,” said Mahindra Group Chairman Mr. Mahindra. “There will be migration of some low-cost work to India, from China (due to the slowdown there) but my only concern is that this should not be the only place where we (India and China) do battle,” he told delegates at a ‘Make in India’ conference.

Echoing Mahindra’s views Mr. Birla said: “We need to learn a lot of new skills for making global brands including miniaturization. We are sometime away from that. However, this is right time to start learning new skills.”

Making Indian brands global is something that requires patience, time and product quality, Birla said. “I think we are yet to see any brand coming out of India that is truly global.”

Right now the opportunity is for consumer brands. “I think we have a great brand in Idea Cellular. It will be our starting point. However, currently we are focusing on the domestic market.”

India economically, was in a sweet spot at this stage being one of the fastest growing major economies in the world with strong foreign direct investment, Mr. Birla said.

“It is important to understand that India has a strong track record in manufacturing, whether it be petroleum refineries, textile and cement plants,” he said.

When Edward L Monser, President of the U.S.-based Emerson Electric Company advocated for focused businesses at a forum in the ‘Make in India Summit, Mr. Birla and Mr. Mahindra came together to defend the Indian business model of a conglomerate structure -- at a time when globalisation is demanding focus on lean companies which can take decisions quickly.

“We have focused companies run by independent boards. And then we have an activist corporate centre who guides them,” said Mr. Birla

Mr. Mahindra cited Warren Buffet to defend multi-business models: “Google is a conglomerate with its diversified business operation including health services.”

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