After elaborating on current political issues and the political leaders of India in the first part of his interview with Business Today Magazine, Sadhguru, in part two, looks at the five big challenges of doing business in India while also exploring the untapped business opportunities that India offers. Finally, he compares India and China, and explains why India is a better business destination than its neighbor.
The Challenges of Doing Business in India
Q. There seems to be a lot of stress in corporate India, among executives…
Sadhguru: The problem is, you ask the chaprasi on the street – he is stressed about his job. You ask the housewife with two children – she is stressed with one husband and two children. You ask the prime minister – well, he looks stressed. Stress is about the way you are. You have not understood how to use these fantastic mechanisms – the human body and mind. You have not read the user manual.
Q. What do you think corporate India can do for better employer-employee relationship in this downturn?
Sadhguru: Recently, a major company in the South (South India) came to me with a problem. It wanted to cut off 10 per cent of its employees. So I said, go and talk to the remaining 90 per cent of the employees and ask if they are willing to take 10 per cent less salary for a certain period while you use this time to retrain and rejig the 10 per cent for a different capability. The employees did not refuse. This whole hire-and-fire thing is a very western thing. In India, somebody who works for us for life means he will not go anywhere. We develop a bond with him. If you do not experience any humanity working in your office, you are going around like a robot. Naturally you will talk about work and life.
Q. In corporate India, there are deep divisions within business families. How do you think these can be resolved?
Sadhguru: There was a time when we always looked up to somebody in the family as an elder. What he said was the law. We have to some extent lost that. I think a whole lot of new companies are establishing proper systems – property management, wealth management and succession plans. But family-owned businesses sometimes fail to do this.
Q. How do you think corporate-government relationships can improve? At the moment the government is putting pressure on corporates charging them with tax evasion, this and that…
Sadhguru: You should not make doing business into an obstacle course. You settle that one thing, then you can enforce every law. When there is a big question mark on that, asking the industry that runs its own infrastructure and generates its own electricity to pay taxes – you can’t just say, “I will collect taxes.” You can’t use guns like the invaders did.
Q. What about political funding? Many politicians extract money in the name of funding their parties. Isn’t it a means to put pressure on corporates?
Sadhguru: These things will happen because in this country you can’t run a business largely by law. You have to please somebody. When payback time comes you have to pay. We should be able to run business in this country without going to your minister or prime minister. There are a few states that are managing to have clear laws now.
The Untapped Business Opportunities in India
Q. Can India dream about catching up with a developed nation like America?
Sadhguru: The United States of America is almost three times the size of India with one-fourth the population. The amount of natural resources in America is tremendous. Almost 21 per cent of the world’s fresh water is in America. You cannot compare yourself with America, it is waste of time to even aspire for those things. We should look at how to nourish and educate properly our 1.2 billion people and develop their enormous skill. We can take the world by exporting half our population. Even today, everybody says it is always best to be treated by an Indian doctor in America.
Q. Where do you think India stands vis-à-vis other emerging countries like China on development? Do you think we have done enough?
Sadhguru: We have definitely not done enough, no question about that. China is way ahead of us. Let us not even compare the two. Taking one billion people from abject poverty and putting them on par with developed nations – something which can take over 200 years – doing it in a matter of 35 years is not a small achievement.
But we have the strength of individual enterprise. Tomorrow, if the challenges of doing business in India are taken away – all the laws are simplified, corruption is taken away and people are given a free hand – you will see India will surge ahead. Everybody will want to do business with India, not with China, for various reasons. When you are dealing with China, you don’t know what you are dealing with. You may be thinking you are dealing with somebody who makes plastic toys but you are actually dealing with the Communist Party. So in India we have this advantage, but this is like they have colds and fevers but we have got cancer. We have got to fix it.
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned next week for Sadhguru’s answers on India’s development, future and progress.