Posted by: prataap | June 8, 2008






Emerging Trends:

Here are some recent tectonic shifts to ponder.


A major shift in US-Indian foreign relations occurred in the Spring of 2000; President Clinton announced that $4 billion worth of business deals had been signed in 2 days on his 5 day trip to India. For the first time a US President’s South Asia agenda was being shaped by economic ties rather than regional geo-politics.  In addition, Clinton’s commercial business agenda on his India trip was shaped largely by the American-Indian business community. He was accompanied by Gururaj Deshpande one of the leading lights of the Internet revolution and founder of Sycamore Networks Inc. of Chelmsford, Mass.  

In 2000 India received $3 billion in direct annual foreign investment, at the time a fraction of China’s $44 billion, that gap has closed considerably in less than 8 years.  The added incentive for this shift, in the words of Ray Vickery, advisor to US-India Business Council; ” … India is Democratic, English speaking, there’s the rule of law, and they have a great sense of humor … ” On the other hand, thanks to the iron fist in China, if the center thinks it’s a priority some things can get done over night, while India’s infrastructure remains mired in multiple centuries.


As AOL and others are still trying to get a real foothold in China, thanks to Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang’s ability to schmooze Beijing with his Mandarin,  Yahoo has had a successful portal there for years.  One of the less talked about reasons that Yahoo was a take over target for Microsoft in 2008 was Yahoo’s major presence in China..Microsoft coveted them for reasons beyond expanding the search engine market.


In 2008 two of the top Fortune 100 companies were headed by Indian born CEOs. Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and Indira Noori the CEO of Pepsi. Besides being brilliants minds in their own right, they give their companies the ability to create truly global strategies. After the first wave of engineers and doctors, India’s more recent immigrants have been more eclectic and include emerging leaders. Vinod Khosla a Silicon Valley giant formerly of VC firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byersthat who funded the likes of Google, Genentech and Sun Microsystems, is one of the pack of leaders who came to the US from India as part of the second wave 40 years ago.  The third wave has just come in. Bobby Jindal the Governor of Louisiana, a first generation Indian, was among the first round of candidates for VP on the Republican ticket with John McCann.


A winning global strategy has become a must have in today’s highly integrated and interconnected global economy and these Americans of Indian and Chinese origin give the US a secret weapon in the global economic war . Even american political parties are recognizing that x-factor.

Thanks to the key roles they play in the Internet revolution not only in the US, but around the world, today’s Chinese and Indians are well poised to take on much bigger political and economic leadership roles  Britain, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Scandinavian countries are competing to recruit Indian high tech workers who they believe will improve their competitive edge.

Indians and Chinese outside the homeland have yet to have their true voices heard and they may well be the x-factor in the new economy.   A world leader is bound to emerge from this group within the next 2-5 years.

Next Opportunities:

The breakdown of H-I B visa recipients for 2000 was 43% of India origin, 10% born in China, and 54% working in the computer industry (surprise !), with 50K as the median annual income. Even with the economic downtown of 2008, all of the 60,000 H-1-B visas were snapped up on April 1, the first day they became available and the median annual income has almost doubled.  And this while there is a national recession.  In today’s global economy, even talk of a national recession has to be sector specific and the number of highly skilled workers in many sectors of the economy remains tight.


The opportunities are many; from the obvious immigration lawyers, to the in-house mentoring programs already in place in most companies to help integrate (not assimilate) employees from different cultural backgrounds into the culture of the company while teaching a few essential  Americanisms! Many placement and HR firms are also incorporating a cultural assimilation component in their placement programs. A crash course in the finer nuances of life in the fast lane in America is becoming more the norm than the exception.


US companies such as Griggs Productions of CA are learning to understand and integrate the new cultures entering their previously white male domain and introduce new forms of diversity training that goes way beyond the assimilation, race and gender issues of yesteryear., They  promote cross-cultural differences and better understanding of each other in the workplace.

The next generation of opportunities lies in the new form of cross-cultural integration.  This new wave of truly international immigrants will demand to keep what they want of who they are and adopt or adapt what they want from the American melting pot.  Smart Companies already have table tennis (not ping pong, please) and cricket leagues along with softball. Cafeterias at IBM or Akamai may soon serve yakama soup, chicken vindaloo, Peking duck, and burgers. Personal coaches will be offered to the star immigrant workers to help make the multi-cultural transition as smooth as possible, while nurturing the independent, creative streak that makes them so valuable.  For new immigrants, finding ones identity within this new set of sub-cultures can be a major emotional and physical drain, especially in the first few years. Any personalized resource that can reduce the strain and help him/her become more productive faster, as well as services that allow a company to be truly global in its own corporate culture and outlook will attract the best talent and create a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Private schools in Silicon Valley and Massachusetts that act more like ex-patriot schools abroad, like those in Singapore where they acknowledge and encourage the retention of the multi­cultural backgrounds of their students, will attract more of these companies and workers to locate there. This will in turn demand greater partnership between these companies and the local private schools. A win-win proposition. Look for a school near you in CA, or MA offering Mandarin or Gujarati as the second language and sponsored by the local software or biotech giant.

Watch for a whole new wave of regional cuisine to find its way into the restaurant scene of major cities and for many of them to be refined, specialized Chinese and Indian restaurants in the 5 star categorys. Think Malabar Fish Head Curry or roast pig next time you think BBQ this summer and be ahead of the crowd. If you think you have been eating Indian and Chinese food since the 60’s, you have only tasted the tip of the iceberg of those two cultures culinary delights. The next Julia Child of cooking may well be Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger in Wellesley Mass or the next Indian star chef on the Food Network. Or maybe it will be someone one who is honing his culinary fusion skills on his way right now from Kerala  via London and headed for the shores of California

Let your imagination run wild.

Create the future and smell the roses, it’s your move!

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