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'We Must Move Away From This Unhealthy Obsession Over Degrees'

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Joshi says the book goes beyond a 'how to' book on India and discusses solutions for the largest challenges of our times

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India and doing business in India is a fascinating subject to business persons and academicians. Bharat Joshi, who juggles both professions, wades through different socio-cultural, political and business aspect of the diverse nation and tries to bring a meaningful discourse on doing business in India in his book Navigating India: $18 Trillion Opportunity. In an interview with BW Businessworld, Joshi says the book goes beyond a 'how to' book on India and discusses solutions for the largest challenges of our times.


What is your book Navigating India about? And why this book now?
For me, Navigating India has two meanings: the more obvious meaning of the nautical metaphor is to negotiate the Indian environment to conduct a successful and ethical business that creates value for the organization and society. Navigating India also alludes to navigating India, herself, charting a course towards this economic goal, while matching this growth on social indices.
India has the potential to generate an additional $18 Trillion of GDP within the lifetime of its young and rapidly expanding work force. At the macro level, India is embracing reform and technology, to achieve this milestone.

At a micro level, individuals and organisations will be both generators and beneficiaries of this phenomenal growth. Navigating India is a worm's eye view as well as a bird's eye view of this incredible journey, and how we all can be a part of this.
How do you suppose this book could help those outside of India looking to invest in India?
This book could help not only those on the outside but investors, professional, philanthropists and others within India. The book draws from personal insights, experiences and mistakes from domain experts in business, journalism, governance, politics and intelligentsia. Navigating India goes beyond being a "how-to" book on India and discussed solutions for the largest challenges of our times, the future trajectory- both at macro and micro level. In fact, some of the most encouraging response has come from Indian readers, who find the book to have provided a great perspective on a variety of subjects.

So, is India really an "express train that stops at all stations" as explained the ticket collector to Mark Tully. How can Indian corporate and the government change this perception?
This anecdote uses the slow moving train as a metaphor for the Indian economy; how a country with all the right ingredients seems to have been performing below its fullest potential, and where it might reach if some of the inhibiting factors were eased. However, this perception has already been changing. To us in India, it's often indiscernible, but the trajectory and direction of change have been steady and reassuring. India has performed exceedingly well in the last couple of decades, global headwinds notwithstanding, and there is every reason to believe this performance will only improve.

The book also explores how India's performance, geo-economically, geo-politically and internally on social markers has almost universally been surging.

You talk about diversity, corruption, red tape and political climate affecting entrepreneurs and businesses with examples from fairly new companies. It seems like only the examples are changing and the hurdles to the business ecosystem still remain the same.
Not true at all. The book discusses horror stories and success stories for the instructive value they have, however, the unanimous view is that the ecosystem is better than it ever was.

We are not perfect, but the constant incremental reforms in legislation, policy, regulation, governmental oversight, etc., have all ensured that we improve across all markers of the EODB rankings.

Considering you do a bit of both - running a business and teach -- do you think there is a need to re-skill India? 
Of course, there is. I have long been an advocate of promoting employability. We must move away from this unhealthy obsession over degrees, and embrace vocational training. It must be accepted socially, but also by employers and a burgeoning work force. On a related point, the book talks about how we are losing out by having a lower representation of women in the work force. In terms of skilling, and lifting social markers for households, this is one of the low hanging fruit.

How long did it take for your to research this book?

Research and writing were a long, albeit illuminating, process, which took me a couple of years. The rest was the editing, publishing, etc.

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