--> Gill Blog: Mumbai Bounces Back After Blasts

Gill Blog

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mumbai Bounces Back After Blasts

I've really been giving a lot of thought to the Mumbai bombings over the past few days, and have been principally pondering what type of effect the bombings will have on its white hot economy. Already, there are many who are predicting that this event could create a serious setback for India's outsourcing community and questioned how well outsourcing partners in India can maintain the continuity of their operations:
In the wake of the attacks, outsourcing providers in Mumbai scrambled to make sure employees and customer data were safe and secure. Meanwhile, outsourcing customers sought reassurances that their Indian partners could handle future unforeseen events.

The terrorist attack in Mumbai—and conflict between Israel and Lebanon for that matter—raise a series of questions for companies sourcing technology globally.

Do you know the disaster recovery plans of your offshore services provider? Are their plans integrated with yours? And how prepared are these providers?

Despite such ominous predictions, and after weighing multiple scenarios in my head, I can still answer this in a word: little.

Surely, this is not the first time that India's financial capital has seen a terrorist attack, but it is the first time this has occurred during India's new period of being an economic powerhouse. In the past these types of incidents had much to do with terrorist factions, particularly from Kashmir who wanted to destabilize the country to the point where war became a distinct possibility. The underlying assumption that somehow the outsourcing industry in India will fly south as a result of the attacks has one crucial flaw: it assumes the economy will continue to be driven by low end service functions such as call centers, without recognizing the country's massive potential to move up the business value chain. It is for this reason alone that more measured analysts remain bullish about India's long-term prospects.

Despite the actions of scattered terrorists, my gut tells me that nobody's going to take the bait and undo all the good things that have happened - there's just too much going on to let this disruption get in the way of something that can rightly be described as an economic miracle. Since the last time terrorist bombs ripped through India, a middle class has been firmly established, multinationals are lining up to jump into India, and the India-Pakistan cloud that has been hanging over the continent for decades is dissipating, especially because their respective leaders, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and General Pervez Musharraf genuinely seem to like each other.

What are the lessons that can be learned from a business continuity perspective? In short, there is much to be learned from the resilience of the Indian people, who perhaps as a result of living through decades of turmoil, conflict and uncertainty have exhibited a striking ability to dust themselves off and continue to move forward. Although there are some who believe its not enough to laud the efforts of the residents of Mumbai, we in the west should pay particular attention to it.

Given the state of fear that we have become accustomed to accepting, there is much to be admired from the resolve the Indian people. Little wonder they are doing as well as they are.


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