Friday, June 26, 2009

Experience India! Day 1

Before embarking on the Bangalore Trip, I was packed with lots of enthusiasm and expectations of Bangalore. Bangalore, also known as the Silicon Valley of India, houses numerous IT companies and I’m certain that it’s every SOC student's dream to visit such an IT hub in India.

After touching down in Bangalore International Airport, the fine and cooling climate welcomed us. Compared to other Indian airports elsewhere, Bangalore airport was apparently very clean and organized. Although the airport staffs didn’t look very welcoming and were more concerned about H1N1 flu screening, somehow we all cleared the customs smoothly and safely.

Then we loaded our baggage into the vehicles and happily started our journey to ECC (Ecumenical Christian Centre). As far as we could see, everything seemed fine. As we slowly drifted away from the airport into the city, there awaited for us the ‘real’ India. What we came across are pollutions, congestion, bumpy rides and bad city planning.

But it is really magnificent to see that without proper traffic rules and sign boards, the vehicles are still moving about safely. One thing I noticed about Indian drivers, they always stick to the ‘Give- and- Take’ policy on the roads. With their unique way of horning and own set rules formulated specially for Indian drivers, the drivers are able to navigate quite well on the roads. This is definitely something which Singaporean drivers should learn from them especially the ‘Give- and- Take’ policy.

After about 1 hour of traveling, we finally reached ECC and to my surprise, it was a serene and clean place(located 2 km from the main road). I was really delighted that ECC is surrounded by flora and fauna which was conducive for our stay and learning. Later we settled down, unpacked our stuff and got ready for the introductory lecture by Prof. Parameshwar P. Iyer from IISc(Indian Institute of Science) (well- known post- gradute institution in Bangalore). I must thank him because without him , this entire trip won't be possible. He welcomed us and gave us a general overview of the program, followed by a welcome speech by Rev. J.R. Paul Singh, Deputy Director of ECC.

Then, our first guest speaker of the trip arrived, Ms Roopa P. Doraswamy, a young lawyer with so much of experience and knowledge to share with us. She gave us a lecture on Social and Legal Dimensions in India. She mentioned that Business process outsourcing sector has emerged as a key driver of growth and is the biggest employment generator. Moreover, she said that there detailed and excellent law in India but sometimes it's pretty tough to implement them. Other key areas covered were:

a) Tax - direct & indirect
b) Repatriation of Profit
c) Interplay between federal and local regulations
d) Compliances
e) Human resources- employment & related issues
f) Intellectual Property ( Rights and Protection Issues) and
g) Exit options and strategies

We discussed lots of interesting topics and learnt that there are some differences in, for example, the social security between Singapore and India. For Singapore, social security is provided by the State, on the other hand, for India, it starts from the family. Starting a company or investing in India is not so easy and there are some prohibited sectors which we must take note of. Sectors in which FDI in India is prohibited are Retail Trading (other than ‘Single Brand Product’ retailing), Atomic Energy, Lottery business, Gambling and Betting.

FDI ( Foreign Direct Investment) into India can be divided into 3 categories:
a) Prohibited sector
b) Sectors requiring Prior approval from government
c) Automatic route( for sectors which doesn't come under the above- mentioned 2 sectors) - FDI of up to 100% is permitted

Well, all of us felt that the talk by Ms Roopa was very informative and worth listening to. After that, we went for dinner at the cookhouse in ECC and went out to get local SIM card for our mobile phones, but for some strange reasons I didn't get one for myself as I had international roaming. Of course, I will definitely advise others to get one as it is cheap. Then I came back and slept early, looking forward to more lectures and a site visit to a company the next day.

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