India’s $74 million Mars mission cost less than ‘Gravity’ movie

By Charles Riley  @CRrileyCNN

While some critics take issue with the government’s use of public funds on space exploration instead of social problems, Modi now has yet another space triumph to tout. Only the U.S., Russia and Europe have successfully executed Mars missions; China and Japan have failed.

It’s difficult to overstate just how little money the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has to work with. The agency’s annual budget for this fiscal year is only $1.2 billion, while NASA has a budget of around $17.5 billion.

ISRO is able to save money by using short development cycles, and taking advantage of India’s cheap labor market. Highly-skilled aerospace engineers in the country might receive a salary of $1,000 per month, a fraction of what the same workers would be paid in Europe or the U.S.

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3 key Lessons for Doing Business in India

Samantha Schmidt, The Business Journals for HSBC

India has the world’s second-largest population and a booming economy, so it only makes sense that U.S. companies want to learn how to do business there. But with all of India’s opportunities come several distinct challenges for U.S. companies that want to enter the market.

Here are three key lessons for doing business in India.

Catering to Indian consumers:

India has a population of more than 1.2 billion people, but many of them are low-income and live in rural regions. This has caused many Western companies to make substantial changes to how they usually do business, Haley said.

For instance, companies such as London-based Unilever have adjusted their packaging to offer their products in single-use package sizes – an ideal marketing strategy for low-income consumers.

Indian consumers can also be rather sensitive when it comes to food services, Haley said. Since 80 percent of the population is Hindu — and many Hindus abstain from beef — companies need to avoid anything that resembles a beef or beef bi-product in their food.

Infrastructure/shipping:

Western companies often fail to focus enough attention on making sure proper infrastructure is available for their needs in India. More than a decade ago, India unveiled the Golden Quadrilateral highway system, which wraps around the country’s circumference, but only a small portion of it carries four-lane traffic.

The primary concern with Indian infrastructure is its port system. Many ports in India do not have water deep enough to run efficiently. Shipping products requiring refrigeration or heating can also be problematic, Haley said, because many ships may not have the necessary capacity.

 Companies need to make sure the port they are using is equipped properly for their products, and is conveniently located for their investment.

 Working with the government

Like many Asian countries, India’s state and provincial governments often hold considerable power. Companies need to work with these governments to get deals approved, and they need to make an effort to show government officials their projects will be bring jobs and taxes to the region.