India and "creative chaos"

Steve Hamm

It's impossible to think about India without thinking about China--and vise versa. And the contrast is sharp. China is an orderly, top-down, plan-oriented state with plenty of capitalist drive but not a lot of creativity. The infrastructure in its big cities is first rate. But, of course, it's not democratic. India's an unruly democracy--with government as chaotic as its traffic. Which system will win? China clearly has the early lead, but I wouldn't write India off. The concept of creative chaos is one reason. This language was introduced to me a couple of days ago by Leo Apotheker, head of worldwide sales and marketing for German software giant SAP. He visits India 4-5 times per year and has noticed that the top Indian entrepreneurs he meets look at business problems and opportunities differently than a lot of Western leaders--and they come up with strategies that knock the established global business players off balance. They think this way because they have to be creative to overcome the chaotic business and political environment in India. "I think that long term India will outperform China," he told me. "They have a culture of chaos. A culture of chaos and a strong education system, together, are more important than infrastructure."

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