Sajan Raj Kurup: Most Indian businessmen are inherently quiet and low key.
Dear Sir Martin, I happened to read an interview of yours in the press last Friday. There were some nice observations about India. However, your statement about India seeming to lack self confidence, in my humble opinion, is an overly simplistic generalisation and an incorrect one. You mustn’t take our businessmen’s deliberate and cautious ways or their concern about our country for a lack of self confidence. As a foreigner with large business interests here, you have a right to your opinion on the business psychology of India. Since I am a small yet home grown entrepreneur, who belongs to the same (well, similar) industry as you, I would insist I have a closer and perhaps a more accurate perspective of the same. In case you haven’t observed, most Indian businessmen are inherently quiet and low key. We aren’t usually extravagant in our show of confidence. Our humble, quiet and peaceful ways may seem diffident, but that’s just the visage. It’s just the way we are, and have been. Historically, we never did have to conquer or acquire to display our confidence. Deep beneath the worry lines, we are constantly thinking ingenious thoughts. Hidden behind every concern on our face is an opportunity we are hoping for in our minds. And what might look like depression to European or American eyes is often the anticipation and preparation for the worst. That’s how we have historically grown incredibly robust businesses from scratch in one of the world’s most competitive markets. So, when you make a blanket statement on our self confidence, Sir, I can’t decide whether you were indulging your naïve side by taking India at face value; or perhaps basing your view only on the people you met for a potential acquisition during your visit. While I wouldn’t comment on the latter, face value, I am afraid, isn’t an accurate barometer in India - certainly not to understand our business psychology.