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Business

Optimistic India Meets Pessimistic Germany

As German industry begins to wake up to the endless opportunities in the vast expanse of India, Indian companies are slowly but surely tapping into Germany.

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India's dense population makes for major profit potential

In a clear statement during his visit to Germany this week, India's Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram told potential investors that India is fertile ground for foreign cash. He called on medium-sized companies not to miss their chance to secure a slice of the giant pie.

Palaniappan Chidambaram - Indischer Finanzminister

Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram

"Just see what the Koreans have done in the last ten years," he said. "If I was you, I'd ask myself one simple question: If South Korea can do it, why can't Germany? If Japan can do it, why can't Germany? And today, if Chinese companies can enter India, why not Germany?"

By the same token, many Indian companies have long been seen as global players striving to score a presence here in Germany, either because their customers are here or because German technology is good for their image.

Germans not so rigid

In 2004, metal worker Bharat Forge from Pune took over the 170 year-old metal component manufacturing company, Carl Dan Peddinghaus. Now, under the name CDP Bharat Forge, he successfully supplies the European automobile industry from his base in Germany.

Similarly, the largest private industrial company in India, Reliance, has bought polyester manufacturer Trevira, formerly a subsidiary of Hoechst.

Fabrik in Hyderabad

German workers can see how their Indian counterparts work at home

It is still quite unusual for German companies to be run by Indian management, but Subodh Sapra, Chairman of the Indian Trevira supervisory board said the Germans are more flexible than their reputation suggests.

"They realize that as we are the world's largest producer of polyester today, we can help them," he said. "I couldn't say that every single one of the 2000 employees we have in Trevira open-minded, that of course is not true. But by and large, we were welcomed and they are responding. And we help them by taking them to India and showing them our operations."

Communication success

There are undoubtedly differences between the German and Indian way of running a company, but on the whole, communication has been much easier than feared.

Inder an der TU Chemnitz

Entrepreneurial Indians are finding a face in Germany

"Language was certainly a concern we had, but we were surprised how many people spoke English, and how many were willing to talk to us," Sapra said. "Maybe not in the best English, but so what?"

Manager Bernhard Steinrücke said that German companies and Indian management are a match made in heaven.

"The Indians are great believers in German technology, reliance and educational standards," he said. "What we Germans are lacking is motivation, or what I call the feel good factor. The Indians have it, they are relentlessly optimistic, which means they can achieve a lot here in our relentlessly pessimistic Germany."

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