Branding A Country

Today, I was on my way to work and the moon launch by India randomly popped into my head. As I thought about it more and more, I realized what a truly stupendous achievement it was. I mean, which other developing country do you know that just out of nowhere decides to launch a rocket to the moon, and then with much, much less than half the time and resources that other countries have been throwing at the task, just ups and does it. No transfer of technology, no buying, no asking for a loan. Quick, simple and efficient.

What a huge opportunity for India as a country, in terms of image, particularly in business. Also, as the world becomes an increasingly tech-savvy place, it's important to take a good position in terms of capability. Moreover, it would also be a great way to get positioned in global importance.

I admit, I didn't see any of the information flow overseas so perhaps I am not in the best position to comment on this. But I was here, and I thought the information flow was weak and uncoordinated. There was no attempt to use this to drive Brand India, which would then have flowed as the message overseas too. In fact, I remember my uncle in the US who is a great patriot was actually highly disappointed in the kind and amount of coverage. If any other country, say China, had achieved something like this it would have dominated global headlines for some time. But since this was us, we remained a one-day wonder.

When will governments realize the tremendous need to position the country? It doesn't happen by chance, it's something you work on consciously, that you drive strategically. You use every opportunity to leverage yourself into a position of greater global importance, because these opportunities do not come along every day. It helps when you negotiate for a nuclear deal, it helps when you have aggressive neighbours, it helps when the global economy is sinking…it has numerous and hundreds of intangible benefits.

When I was growing up, India was typically perceived as a poor country awash in tigers, elephants and sadhus. It took the IT revolution and companies like Infosys and TCS for India to be perceived in a whole new league. When I was at INSEAD, we held an "India week", where for one week we had various cultural programs devoted to a discovery of India. As part of that, the many graduates from BITS who were part of INSEAD's IT team created a complete website on India and its culture. Even as classmates shook their heads in disbelief at how we had done it, they acknowledged our abilities in the field.

It's more and more important today that India not just perceive itself as powerful but that it make other countries conscious of the tremendous potential and beneficial power in the form of capability and intellectual talent that we have. It is a pity to keep frittering away our opportunities as we do.

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