by Ed Yourdon
Chris Devonshire-Ellis on Relocating A Business From China to India
As increasing numbers of senior level overseas executives with several years of China-work under their belt get transferred to India, what awaits them? In a manner similar to the way the first early executives dealing with large projects in China were often ex-Africa hands, the same is doubly true in India. Considered a hardship posting, the financial benefits of the battle hardened global expatriate of relocating to India having gained China or Africa experience can be highly rewarding. Increasingly, I am finding on my sorties between China and India an increasing number of expatriates in India with China experience. Corporate membership of Chambers of Commerce is increasing, as are demands for places in international schools and private clubs. Here then are some of the changes between being an expatriate in India as opposed to China:
A more demanding large project environment
India isn’t up to China standards when it comes to the development and execution of large-scale projects. Administrative delays, worker discipline and above all the interference of local politics can interfere with planning and execution. Problems – including the notorious infrastructure issues – need to be worked with and solutions found. Innovation and an ability to think outside the box are needed in India, whereas in China they’ve tended to make the administration far easier. However, there are signs that China is not what is was – increases in labor unrest, strikes (previously unheard of), and especially protectionism are growing in China. As was mentioned to me in Mumbai recently “I’m paid to sort these problems out, and that’s what my MBA program was for.” Is India more big project awkward than China? Yes. Is it solvable? Also yes.
A more welcoming social environment
While China is a generally friendly and welcoming place to be, for the small infrastructure it falls down when dealing with foreigners, and there are still barriers. Getting tickets, going out to Chinese events, finding out what’s happening online, reading international news, social networking, keeping in touch internationally with family and friends over the internet – these are all awkward or have infrastructure banned in China. While one can get used to not having Facebook in China, if you’re used to it overseas it’s a major hassle. India has both free media and social networking, and its usage of English language just makes the social element of being in India that much more pleasant. Plus, if you’re Japanese, Indians don’t have endless spats over wartime related events and territorial disputes over 60 years old that frequently mar the Japanese population in China. Neither, apart from Pakistan and China, does India have territorial disputes with anyone else. China is currently in disputes with India, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, several nations over the Spratly Islands, is threatening potential economic sanctions with Norway if the Nobel Peace prize is awarded to a Chinese reformist, and has a history of encouraging its nationals to harass citizens of other nations when things go wrong – such as throwing stones at the U.S. and British Embassies over the NATO incident in Belgrade. China is more antagonistic, is quite prepared to occasionally indulge in harassment of foreign nationals, while Indians tend to argue among themselves rather than with foreigners.