Monday, February 20, 2006

India V/s China: The Google Test

Over the past few years there has been a lot of discussion on the India v/s China story. I was following the same on and off in my own desultory fashion and trying to figure out which country was more economically important to MNCs. No particular reason, just idle thoughts of an idle mind. Unfortunately I found it rather confusing.
Why? Well, look at the usual suspects discussed, FDI and Infrastructure.

Some claim that the FDI figures that China releases is highly puffed up and that India on the other hand under reports its FDI as it does not take into account the reinvestment of capital and overseas corporate borrowings as is the normal practice. Therefore the FDI gap is much closer than one feels. Then again there are those who compare India's FDI inflows very unfavourably with the Chinese FDI based on actual numbers.

The state of infrastructure in both the countries obviously has to crop up. And people always always start with the airports. The squalor of Mumbai pitted against the spanking new Pudong airport at Shanghai. While China is indeed far ahead in terms of physical infrastructure, of late MNCs have begun to talk in glowing terms of India's "soft" infrastructure i.e. a free press, an independent judiciary and our democratic institutions - such as they are!!!

So as I said in the beginning it has been a slightly confusing time for me.
Which do MNCs prefer? India or China?
Now I know.
China China China and China once again.
Why so?

Well look at the reaction of dear old Google – the world leader in search and a very important player in the Internet arena – to the "requests" of Chinese authorities to censor their search results. It has voluntarily decided to censor search results on topics such as " Independence for Taiwan" and the "Tiananmen Square massacre" among other things.

And as justification for this despicable conduct Google has come out with a totally self serving crap which read as, "While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information... is more inconsistent with our mission." Ooo la la.

Now look at the reaction of Google to concerns of the Indian Government over Google Maps, "Google takes governmental concerns about Google Earth and Google Maps very seriously. Google welcomes dialogue with governments, and we will be happy to talk to Indian authorities about any concerns they may have."
That is it. Nothing beyond this bromide dished out by the company spokesperson. I wonder if they would have been so blase if it was the Chinese Government that wanted some change.

This difference in reaction says it all does it not?
China wins hands down.


Siddique Akbar said...

As said by all the management gurus, a chinese will never repeat a mistake. They did a big mistake when it came to the BPO world and India gained a big advantage. This time they were not vulnerable when it came to internet. Its a matter of concern that even if our IT industry is booming and so the sensex, then why are the old players of internet ie GOOGLE are not interested.

Kevin Leary said...

This is great reading for those of us in America interested in what's going on half way around the world but without reliable news from that region. Keep up the good work. If you get a chance drop into for politics undressed.

Raghu said...

You make some good points but I think that for Google it is as much a qn of what they can get away with Vs who they believe is more important.

If the Govt of India said "Please change the map.... btw if you don't we are going to screw you royally, shut down all your offices here and not let you transact a rupee of business in our republic EVER" then I am sure it would have attracted the attention of more than the spokesman and evoked other than the template response.

There are certain disadvantages to asking nicely.

erasmus-in-india said...

Great insights! I was a student at IIM Bangalore last semester. I m from belgium and I was confronted with the india/china choice... Only the future will tell me if i did the good choice.

I d love to go back to India... Probably this summer.

Dont hesitate to drop by my blog and to let a comment... It s worth reading... a foreigner insight on india ;)