Doing Business in India: Delhi

Our company visits spanned across two cities, Delhi and Mumbai, which provided a great opportunity not only to see the cultural differences of the two regions, but also to observe the different business environments. The first stop was Delhi.

Our trip leaders described Delhi as the “DC of India” which makes a lot of sense since it’s the capital city and many people there are employed by the government. What really struck me about the city was how spread out it was. We stayed in Gurgaon, a city just outside New Delhi that is considered the tech and financial hub for the greater metropolitan area. Some of our meetings were near there but others were in Old & New Delhi which gave us the opportunity to experience some of Delhi’s infamous traffic – a true sight to be seen with 1000s of rickshaws making their way around roundabouts.

Our first visit was in “Old Delhi” at the Red Fort, where we met a variety of individuals involved in the private-public partnership that maintains and develops the property. It was really interesting to me to see how business, a creative/design agency, and the military worked together. The different elements of this visit showed us how much stakeholder buy-in is required sometimes in India to get great things done.

Our third meeting in Delhi was with OYO, the world’s second largest hotel chain by number of rooms worldwide. This was another rapidly growing Indian company that seemed to “come out of nowhere”. What really struck me during this meeting was the approach to the office (pictured above). While OYO is now an internationally recognized name, it was interesting to see the contrast that seemed to pervade a lot of the Delhi/Gurgaon landscape. Right next to the office building, which could have been taken straight out of Manhattan, there were makeshift market stalls and stray cows and dogs. This visual really brought home the “two worlds” I saw throughout my time there. As India’s economy continues to grow over the next few years, I would be really interested to see how this dynamic shifts.

Another meeting I learned a lot from in Delhi was our visit with Smriti Irani, Minister of Textiles and Women & Child Development. Prior to CBS I worked in Government, at the UK’s Department for International Trade, covering the Retail industry – so Ms. Irani’s role was of particular interest to me. I think the whole group was really impressed by her. She was eloquent, firm on her stances, and emphasized that she wanted to be recognized not as a female political leader, but just as a political leader in its own right.

Victoria Harman is a 2020 MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School.

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