The Consulate General of India in Atlanta has long been keen to recruit local investors to the country, but recently it took to the Internet to give them more of a road map for success.
The consulate partnered with the Indian American International Chamber of Commerce’s Southeast branch in Atlanta to organize a webinar incorporating first hand perspectives from companies across the region, many from executives eyeing deeper partnerships in India despite the pandemic-related downturn it’s experiencing.
RADISE India, a subsidiary of West Palm Beach, Fla.’s Smart Infrastructure Group, is looking at potentially manufacturing in the country after setting up an operations center in Hyderabad, where it now has close to 40 workers.
The group, which makes sensors used to collect data from roads, bridges and other sources in what many are calling the “smart city,” giving city leaders the information they need to improve efficiency.
“It’s a unique industry where we are trying to put sensors in dirt and concrete,” CEO Kumar Allady said.
Now, the company is looking to see if India might make sense as not only a sourcing market, but also a potential sales target.
Mr. Allady’s experience so far shows that India has a massive, eager talent pool where it’s easy to find qualified people, especially those used to working in various time zones, “but matching the right person with the right job is a huge challenge,” he said.
It’s important to have multiple candidates lined up for executive roles, he said, as generous gaps between the hiring and start dates in India mean workers have time to parlay one offer into a better one. He added that’s vital to put a trusted, energetic leader in charge of the India operation, and that most suppliers are very reliable, but large manufacturers may require order quotas.
For Kamal Kumar Dutta, a New Jersey-based doctor who operates a 350-bed Ruby General Hospital in Kolkata, communication with staff on the ground in India has been key, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each week he has a video conference with the medical and finance directors and has traveled to India more than 100 times in the last 30 years.
He cautioned that running any investment, especially a hospital, is not easy in India, recalling the five-year process to get the 2.5 acres needed to build a hospital that would provide the care he wishes his sister would have had before she passed away of breast cancer.
But he always remembers his father’s admonition to undertake a project without complaining, given his relative position of blessing as someone standing on the shoulders of India’s freedom fighters of the mid-20th-century.
In the health business, he said, sometimes it’s better not to overanalyze the potential short-term return, which can lead to paralysis, but instead cast a long-term vision of caring for people. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get divine help, he added, which he says accompanied the late saint and Nobel laureate Mother Teresa’s visits to the facility in the 1980s.
“I still think to do a hospital project in India you need a lot of blessings, and Mother Teresa is still looking after us,” Dr. Dutta said.
Also sharing a story of medical connection was Ratnagiri Polavarapu of Atlanta, a genomics researcher formerly with Emory University who opened his company, Genomix Biotech, in India in 2003 (also in Hyderabad) to provide a variety of diagnostic kits and other devices to health care providers.
His key message for the audience: When in India, don’t rely on Westernized models.
“A foreign seed cannot grow in India. An Indian seed has to grow in India. You have to understand what India is,” he said.
Having begun with a word from Consul General Swati Kulkarni and moderator N. Neelaguru, who chairs the IAICC’s Atlanta chapter, the event ended with a “vote of thanks” from Narendra She, IAICC’s executive director for the Southeast U.S. and the CEO of Atlanta-based Futura Capital Group.