The largest Indian employer in China offers priceless lessons on 'running with the dragon'

There is so much to learn from the way Rajendra Singh Pawar, a Padma Bhushan awardee, launched what has emerged as the largest Indian company in China in terms of number of people employed.
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"As a rule, I go to country for a short vacation if I plan to launch business in it. That's what I did in China in 1996," Pawar once told me.

NIIT already had a partner with huge infrastructure capabilities, and it facilitated the company's entry into China the next year. But the partner was to exit from the education business after the Asian financial crisis in 1999, allowing NIIT to take full charge of the China business.
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China was too large a country for NIIT to invest the kind of money required to build a consumer brand. This is why it chose to do business with business instead of direct business to consumer interaction. "As you know in an economy and society like China, the best way to be effective in business relations is to engage with the government," he said.

India is a global brand in IT, China has watched India's IT growth with great curiosity. The economic value that the Indian software industry has created for the US goes into hundreds of billions of dollars. If India can add economic value to the US economy, it can certainly do the same in developing economies.
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NIIT works in cooperation with universities, software parks, and local governments across Chinese cities and provinces.
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The big breakthrough came for the company in 2005 when the Jiangsu provincial government invited NIIT to partner with more than 50 universities and colleges to train 50,000 people with IT and English language skills in the province. By 2016, it had trained double the number of students originally envisaged.

Edited excerpts from Saibal Dasgupta's new release Running With The Dragon ⁠— How India should do business with China, published by the Penguin.

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