Book Review: It Happened In India
Long ago, Devdutt Pattanaik amazed me with his interpretation of mythology and how it can be put to use in business context. He was working as the Chief Belief Officer for Future Group, which is when I first read about Kishore Biyani. I was very thrilled when I came to know Biyani wrote a book — while it was unclear whether the book was on India or business or his own rise, I figured it had to be a combination of this.
Biyani’s fundamental premise and the theme of the book is that doing business in India is not the same as doing business elsewhere. Best practices developed in other countries — particularly the developed nations like US or Japan or even China — will not work in India. Indian consumers had different buying profile, shopping preferences and in any case, these are not homogeneous across the length and breadth of the country.
If you are the kind of person that gleans lot of insight from very few words, if you have read my review thus far, you don’t have to spend time reading the book. Here’s why:
Disclaimer: This review is about the book,
not about him or his conglomerate.
- While Biyani may be a great businessman and a successful entrepreneur, his narrative skills are very poor. The whole book reads like a reality show of his business dynasty, captured in every little detail, most of them mundane and trivial.
- His liking to Bollywood and cricket and songs and music — while entertaining — is very clichéd, especially when repeated throughout the book
- While he is ingenious in his thoughts, I believe he underestimates the increasing power of westernization, globalization and influence of foreign brands into his market. I am not just talking about expensive things affordable only to the upper middle-class, but products accessed by middle and lower-middle classes as well
- Most of all, I don’t know if it’s my wrong judgment to expect a leadership book out of this title — but this book is awful lot of boring details, which have nothing to do with leadership
Overall, it is a very under-average read, especially for discerning readers who look for leadership books in the context of Indian sub-continent.
To conclude, I quote two of my friends, with each of whom I brought up the topic of this book.
One friend said “If you have read Welch, all other books look uninspiring, much less is Biyani”
Another friend, said, coincidentally also quoting Welch, “If you are a mom-and-pop shop in India looking for inspiration, Biyani might read like Welch to them”