It’s ‘Namaste India’ season
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It’s ‘Namaste India’ season

While we Indians have educated ourselves to say hello to the world in a language that we inherited 63 years ago, the world is now warming up to us with our very own ‘Namaste’.

mumbai Updated: Dec 26, 2010 01:43 IST
Devendra Chawla
Devendra Chawla
Hindustan Times

While we Indians have educated ourselves to say hello to the world in a language that we inherited 63 years ago, the world is now warming up to us with our very own ‘Namaste’.

Heads of state like US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and celebrities like Pamela Anderson are bowing with joined hands. The CEOs of two Western corporate giants started their presentations with a Namaste at a corporate seminar I attended recently.

This reminds me of a similar trend I saw in China way back in 2002. Business travellers and world leaders would greet the locals with Ni Hao instead of the conventional Hello. Not because the locals could not speak English, but out of sheer respect for the growing Chinese economy.
In India back then, only tourists said Namaste, and more as a social comfort tool.

Namaste is not just a welcome note, it signifies respect — ‘I bow to the potential in you’. You namaste when you greet a senior or someone you consider important. And you use the local language when you want to strike an instant connection. All in all, it’s a good old custom. And world leaders are now greeting us this way, signifying the potential in India.

So what new potential has the world discovered in us? I see this Namaste as a tribute to the potential of our country to create 50,000 jobs in another country; to India’s 9% GDP growth, which is expected to significantly help pull the world out of an economic slowdown.

India’s GDP growth alone is roughly $350 billion a year, which is equal to the total GDP of a country like Belgium. The Namaste is to one of the largest buyers of defence and nuclear energy in the world.

And with the Namaste comes backing for a permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council.

This Namaste is also to the young India, with 50% of the population below the age of 25 and about 700 million Indians below the age of 35 — this number alone nearly two and a half times the population of the US.

These young Indians will drive consumption and make India one of world’s most attractive markets over the next decade.

India’s rising per capita consumption makes the country a compelling destination for any global company. The Namaste is to get the right ‘intro’ to this market, and to the potential of the Indian companies expanding around the world.

And that is why so many world leaders are accompanying their corporate honchos on India visits. Indian companies are the UK’s second largest investors, so it’s not just the chicken tikka masala that’s adored.

Pamela Anderson’s Namaste is to India’s potential to easily afford the half-a-million dollars reportedly paid to see her in an Indian sari, dancing to ‘Dhak Dhak’, washing dishes and cooking Indian food. We would have not dreamt, a decade ago, of having her in this Indian ‘avatar’ on an Indian TV show.

Our position today reminds me of the famous Indian saying, ‘Chadate sooraj ko salaam (Everyone salutes the rising sun)’.

Indians no longer need to talk with an accent to feel welcome when travelling abroad, instead they can expect a warm Namaste. The world has found 1.17 billion reasons to care. While we still have a number of development issues to address, the world is already at the door.

This is the start of the next global tide, which will reflect for decades the realisation of decades of pent-up aspirations.

So here’s to a country where parents will determinedly skip a meal so their children can study and mould a better tomorrow. Here’s to the 1.17 billion Indians — Namaste.

The views expressed by the author are personal(Devendra Chawla is Head of Private Brands at Future Group)

First Published: Dec 26, 2010 01:38 IST