Evolution of Traditional Indian Business

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Evolution of Traditional Indian Business:
Challenges and Strategies to Commercial Success.

dissecting the traditional Singapore Indian business: roles and functions (239) Traditional Indian businesses; small-scale and family controlled firms employ distinct socio-economic characteristics that exploit functional family role-relationships and allegiances to ensure efficient implementation of business decisions. These firms utilize a mixture of informal and conventional management styles to complement paternalistic and nepotic practises; thereby allowing family members strategic control of key managerial positions. [1]

Although traditional Indian enterprises have played a major role in Singapore’s economic growth and commercial economy, I will establish these enterprises as being fundamentally immature and inappropriate for modern economic growth without the evolution and adaptation process coupled with the strong foundation and base priorities of these firms; the joint ownership, personal stakes involved in its success and acceptance of patriarchal decisions that puts them in an excellent position to achieve commercial success. [2]

My essay will highlight the challenges faced by the Chettiar community as a reflection of the tough socio-economic climate faced by traditional Indian businesses in Singapore and the decline of Chettiar money-lending to show the need for the evolution of traditional Indian businesses to remain economically relevant.

My essay will also compare some of the expansionary strategies implemented by Indian enterprises to adapt, evolve and ultimately ensure the survival and continued success of the traditional Indian firm in Singapore. I will proceed to evaluate the impact of these strategies on the contrasting fortunes of Mustaq Ahmad and P Govindasamy Pillai as a reflection of the challenges and strategies to commercial success.

the challenges faced: decline of money-lending and the Chettiars (311) Since their advent in the 1820s, the Chettiars; a prominent class of merchants from South Asia with an established reputation in the fields of commerce and finance had become a formidable force in the money-lending business of Singapore. The Chettiars controlled vast regional networks with large amounts of capital at their command and remained largely successful in their economic enterprises until the 1930s when various restrictive legislative bills were passed to curb and control money-lending activities in Singapore. [3] In addition, the emergence of Arabs, Sikhs and Chinese indulging in small scale money-lending and the sudden Japanese occupation of Singapore between 1940 and 1945 brought a sharp reduction in the money-lending trade amongst the Chettiars.[4] The final phase of decline began post-independence; 1965 with the implementation of stringent employment and immigration policies established by the new colonial government in addition to the ever rising number of local money-lenders and the rapid augmentation of financial institutions dealing the last blow to the Chettiars. The 108 registered Chettiar money-lending firms in 1966 dropped to a mere 7 by 1981.[5]

The Chettiar presence in post-independent Singapore has been characterized by an outmigration of the long-established Chettiar money-lenders back to Tamil Nadu as their outdated practises and systems were unable to compete with the emergence of an increasingly sophisticated banking system in Singapore. However, a new generation of Chettiars in search of wage employment did migrate to Singapore with their nuclear families to engage in semi-professional, sales and service sectors, subsequently gaining citizenship and cementing the Chettiar community as a major pillar of Singapore’s commercial success. [6] This is an accurate reflection of the need to remain economically relevant with the tough socio-economic conditions in Singapore where rapid development threatened to make obsolete many traditional Indian businesses that...
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