China will continue to treat organisations as machines where humans will just be one more resource for its drive towards global dominance.
The last two decades of my professional journey has given me some interesting insights. One such experience was during my tenure with an American MNC, where I had the opportunity to get to know my Chinese counterparts. My interaction with our Chinese colleagues taught me many valuable lessons. First, China always keeps a close eye on India. Second, it keeps track of India because we have strength around our human capabilities, the capabilities that can create a potential challenger to its desire for global hegemony.
I have closely observed the India and China story in the last two decades of my professional career. China’s approach is based on gaining control over resources, and management of organisations across sectors within and outside China. The Chinese competitive advantage is more about its ability in gaining control of resources that are of value and gives its advantage over other nations. The Chinese value proposition is about its ability to its resource edge and thereby giving it an advantage in global supply chain, logistics, influence cost and pricing. For China, the Human Resource is a need only from the prospective execution of its larger plan to create organisations as an instrument of domination. For example, its telecom, cyber warfare, belt and road, and mining. China’s poor track record on global norms on trade secrets practices, patents and technology is a concern for all ethical business organisations. I have observed that China has and will continue to build organisations as machines where humans will just be one more resource for its drive towards global dominance. This Machiavellian order where an oligarchy aims to control business in a way that human resources are driven by the power of the free human mind, the creativity of talent and diversity of opening, and ideas are to be replaced with workforce efficiency and speed of execution.
In my experience, Indians have excelled on their own strengths. Indians’ strength is its more open and democratic approach to nation-building, and this is reflected in India’s business model where organisations are like an “organism” going through a state of transformation and evolving in an environment where the human element and quality are important factors. This has resulted in Indian businesses being much more successful in building global partnerships. Its ‘Human Capital Quality’ is acknowledged by developed economics; Indians are sought after talent globally. Some of our technology and start-ups are setting the trend and global benchmark. The indigenous vaccination development, the logistics and its implementation, the expanding footprint of Indian start-ups across the globe and our ability to attract and grow talent are the significant achievements against many odds, especially the post-Wuhan virus pandemic.
India has come a long way since the opening of our economy in 1992. Indians have done well and one of the key reasons for this is Indian middle-class values that we inherited from our forefathers. We have set an example of how collaboration and cooperation among people build a more sustainable business and economic order.
Post 2014, India’s brand image has been enhanced and this has enabled a better perception of brand India abroad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s global outreach has enabled India’s growing profile and has given Indians the access to new opportunities worldwide. This is bad news for China, and hence it will continue with its efforts to derail the Indian growth story.
India and China are two different systems and values that are aimed to follow very different journeys. We need to change our mindset on critical factors such as community vitality, balanced time use, and preservation of environment and culture while driving performance and capability development. India needs to create an integrated National Human Resource Strategy that will give equal focus on ‘academics with sports’ in education and a more learning-oriented business culture. We need to be aspirational and address the core issue of lack of discipline and meaningless obsession with celebrity culture.
Education is at the core of nation building and not a business or commodity trade. We need to start focusing on building leadership qualities right at the schooling stage. We need to create opportunities to apply what they learn, give them a choice in learning subjects in the emerging areas for meaningful employment. We need to address the issue of quality in the education system and prevent our education from turning into business for maximum profit.
The second part of the strategy needs to focus on organisational excellence through capability. This will require greater cooperation in different sectors and organisations like public/private, small and large businesses. We need to create industry-academic partnership and leverage the available expertise for building capability across the industry. We need to overcome our myopic view that only a management graduate can understand business. Many of us hold on to our stereotypes about what qualities are needed to be in a particular job. These approaches are excluding a lot of talent from different fields and are leading to diversity of thought and ideas. The business sector needs to encourage its employees to take part in sports and be healthier. Research shows that workforce, health, and happiness index are the keys to drive sustainable performance, innovation, and excellence at work.
One simple way to start the transition to bring about transformation is to make the National Cadet Core (NCC) mandatory for the youth. This will help in bringing youth from different socio-economic backgrounds together and will help them understand each other and reduce the social barriers. This will build trust which is a key to growth and happiness. Research on brain biology shows vital linkage between performance and fitness. This in turn makes the youth confident and gives them energy to perform.
In today’s world, the ability to collaborate and communicate is the key to our capability to articulate our needs, aspirations, and ideas to the rest of the world and build trust. People-to-people connect is the key to global economic growth. For India to be able to be a global economic player, the Indian talent needs to have the ability to work along with the others. India’s diversity is its greatest strength, as it enables Indians to be more at ease in a multi-cultural economic and business order built on an inclusive system and democratic values. The National Cadet Core service from the high school can be a transforming experience for the youth to build leadership skills and ability to work with a cross section of people.
Our Vedic civilisation created centres of learning like Takshashila, Nalanda and Vikramshila. Our Vedic learning system pioneered a capability development model based on equal emphasis on acquiring knowledge and physical strength. China’s ambition for global dominance is providing Indians with the greatest opportunity under the changing geo-economic order. India needs to focus on National Human Capital Strategy to meet the challenges in the days ahead. We should always remember Swami Vivekananda’s words: “Strength is life and weaknesses are death.”
The writer is an author and columnist on topics related to business acceleration and South Asia economy. The views expressed are personal.