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Entrepreneurship in INDIA
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Posted by : Shiv   Jan 7 2008
Insights into Entrepreneurship in India from an M.Tech Mech. Engineer (IT BHU) from a well to do business family, who has been an entrepreneur for many years now
Today while reading an article on Entrepreneurship and College Degrees in one of the Leading Hindi Dailies of Rajasthan “Rajasthan Patrika” – the experiences of my life with respect to this unique Indian trait came flashing back and tempted me to share my feelings with like minded people.

To start with – I’ll like to give my background to better understand the thought process I’ve been thru. I was born in Rangoon, Myanmar in a well to do business family. My father is a VIIIth pass but has done commendable business operations and I owe most of my business acumen to him. He has represented most of the Leading Japanese Business Corporations in Burma in the 50’s. My childhood was spent playing in the arms of his Japanese friends. I’m the eldest male child of my generation in the family, so in a way a much pampered child. My grandpa had settled in Burma in the early part of 1940’s and the family had to flee that country during the two World wars because of which my father’s education was greatly affected. After his entering business after world war-II and resettling in Burma and coming in contact with the international community combined with the experience of fleeing the country of residence twice, he developed a strong inclination for education for his children. He has been quite successful in this and 3 of his four sons are top class professionals – me the eldest son a M.Tech Mech Engr, next my younger brother – an MS ENT surgeon, next younger to Dr, a top of his field CA. He has achieved this despite a lot of disruptions in our education as well. In 1962 when I was in class 3, because of the then political conditions prevailing in Burma, my schooling was disrupted and for three years I was without any schooling. I moved to India in 1965 and resumed my schooling, with the support of my maternal uncle. My father shifted to India in late 1965 due to Nationalization of private business in Burma. During the resettlement process my education was also highly fractured till I entered college in 1970. I was one of the few destiny children, who despite so many breaks could get in to the most prestigious temples of Education –IT BHU and without loosing a single day of my life, at the young age of 21 had a B.Tech Mechanical Engineering degree in hand.

I still remember the words of my HOD – “why this boy is pursuing Engineering education, when from day one he is inclined to start his own business”. That was my mind set in college. Of course I fully attribute my rebirth to my Alma-matter. From a pampered childhood to a top class professional at the time of passing-out. In my career, I was always guided by my family, especially my father. He always tells, sincere efforts will surely lead to success. But the experiences tell a different story in the Indian context.

After passing out – instead of pursuing a career my total efforts were in the direction of an enterprise. The times were of “Quota permit RAJ”. Whatever efforts I made all led to getting Quotas and selling the goods in the Black market, to which I could not agree. I was always at a loss to follow this line of thinking and found myself on the wrong side of the table. I’d always argued that if someone can buy raw materials from the black market and still manufacture goods and sell at a profit, why not we manufacture and succeed. This is where I find the article in the Paper relevant – Entrepreneurial Success without degree. From time immemorial, Indian Businesses have had this trait in them. I don’t know if I’m right if I say – It probably is in the Genes. College Degrees simply do not have any relation to entrepreneurship. Both are stand alone. Education is Knowledge, enlightenment and may be the ultimate realization of self and ultimately God. Education is not commercial by any means and by no means lead to anything commercial. It is a very personal. Contrary to commercial logic – Education is something which develops on sharing or giving – the more you share the more you stand to gain. Ideally education provides the building blocks of national and character building. How far our system could fulfill these goals is a different story altogether.

Enterprise on the other hand is purely commercial. It is mainly for wealth creation primarily. Education can come in handy to make a Good or Bad enterprise but is not a prerequisite. Probably this is one of the main reasons, we have such a large percentage of the unorganized Sector. I often say that it is unfortunate for us in India that we have the most incompetent people controlling the most demanding TASK of nation building. I have a reason for this thinking – every one of us might have observed what I did but not linked in a way I have. In every family the parents want their children to be well educated to become an Engineer, Doctor or a good public servant. When all efforts by the family and the person fail, to lead to the ideal career option, we say put him in business. This line of thinking clearly suggests that education and enterprise are definitely two different ball games.

The state of business in our country is pathetic. Everyday we hold the total system responsible for the corruption and despondency. Who initiated this in the first place? The statistics speak for themselves. Till now compared to the salary circle of the IT Department what is the contribution of the small businesses to Direct and Indirect Taxes? The figures of other direct and indirect taxes are also a pointer in this direction, I remember undertaking quite a few feasibility studies for a projects and finding out the same to be viable IF electricity theft, tax evasion and other malpractices are used otherwise not viable, this in context of other similar projects working viably and me being labeled impractical by my family members. For one successful enterprise the no. of unsuccessful attempts speak for themselves, but in the end History is always written in favor of the Winner.

By no means I mean to belittle the success and achievements of the successful entrepreneurs, In fact their centuries old presence is laudable. They have a role to play but the time has come to make revision in the age old line of thinking. Already the changes are evident. Success of Knowledge Enterprises is clearly visible throughout the NEW INDIAN landscape. Quota Permit Raj is a thing of the past. Our success in the IT, ITES, infrastructure sector, nano technology, medical and other sectors is proof enough. We are emerging as a preferred Education destination. Globally we are on a take-over spree. At home also the need of the hour is to combine the best of both worlds.

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