Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What is India?

The above photo of the Taj Mahal in Agra, by a friend of mine, reminds me of a lesson I learned while traveling in India last year. A corporation called Tata owns everything, from cars to tea plantations to resorts. I've never seen anything like this kind of corporate ownership inside of one country. The Taj Mahal is a major tourist destination, so of course it's part of Tata. Prices in India are sky-high for anything involved with Tata. India is really not cheap any more, that's so last century!

In any case, here's the list of companies owned by Tata, along with its subsidiaries. The sustainability banner, typical of ecoresorts in India, is here. Greenwash? To a large extent, yes.

India is a very different place. Right now there's much political tumultuousness in Delhi over the Maoist positions on socialistic government, it includes disputes between Tibet and China, as well as the northern India provinces. The Dalai Lama is in northern India, challenging the Chinese domination of Tibet. Add to this the Maoist strikes that affect the adjacent country of Nepal and its city of Kathmandu, and you have a true recipe for volatility. It remains to be seen how the Indian government will resolve all of this.

Add to that a different philosophy of business and a completely alternative view of life's issues. Our Western approaches to these tensions are not really relevant in the face of a complex and multivalent culture and government. The confrontation between China and India over the problem of Tibet will play out in an unpredictable fashion, and hopefully our government will stay out of it, except via its UN participation.