Mango Tango: Top 10 Similarities between India and Argentina

by Dave

These are generalizations I think that would help to give some business context. As they say, for everything you say about India the opposite is also true.

1. Resiliency / Resistencia. Both India and Argentina have enough citizens who are resilient, having collective memory of crises from – wars, foreign occupation, inflation, going from riches to rags, social unrest, political mismanagement of the economy – and have the experience and strength to manage ambiguous situations.
2. Family. Both cultures place an emphasis on family bonds. Immediate family and extended family are usually geographically close. In Argentina, the asado (or barbeque) is sacrosanct; every Sunday the extended family comes together to enjoy a long, leisurely meal and time with family. In both India and Argentina, sons and daughters typically live with parents till before marriage. The number of family controlled businesses are high in both countries, especially in small and mid-size businesses.
3. Colonial Legacy. Spanish empire in the case of Argentina and the British empire in the case of India. Remnants include institutions that are extractive/exploitative in nature and give ordinary citizens the run around for doing simple things. Powerful bureaucracy. Restrictive economic freedom. Transaction-slowing paperwork.
4. Corruption, cronyism. Licenses and permits are required for starting, operating businesses. Rent-seeking behavior by businesses to compete for the market instead of in the market.
5. Sporting Heroes. Crickets stars in India and football stars in Argentina are divinity. Tendulkar and Maradona head up the pantheon.
6. Socialism. Over the last 60 years, government has run many businesses that would be better left to the private sector like telecom, airlines. Politicians talk of helping the poor, but implement policies that wallop them instead. For politicians, business is a dirty word, except when they or their cronies are involved in it. Idea that State is supreme, and knows best. Manufactured scarcity – ‘waiting in long lines/queues’ is considered normal.
7. Agriculture sector’s importance. Occupies a strong place in national imagination. Agriculture as a source of previous national wealth and economic success/could be again. Government interference distorts incentives and gives farmers a hard time and has resulted in a sub-par peformance for the sector.
8. Hierarchy. Both societies are class-conscious, respecting high status and privilege. In business, knowing the right people, especially at senior levels is important. Also, decisions are made at the top and trickle down.
9. A lot of talk accompanied by little action. High GDT (Gross Domestic Talkativeness) per capita. Truly, there is a love of talk, discussing philosophy, sharing opinions, badmouthing politicians and engaging in lively debate. Follow-up and execution is often lacking.
10. Patriarchal. India and Argentina are patriarchal cultures. Pater familias typically wielded considerable influence, though weakening in recent times. At the same time, especially in political and business settings, women are in key positions of power.

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