Global Themes

On Globalization & Venture Capital

Feel the Shanghai sizzle…in Mumbai

Late on Thursday afternoon last week, I had a very interesting conversation with Chris Devonshire-Ellis during which we talked about China, India and the impact their rise is going to have on the global economy.

Chris heads Dezan Shira and Associates and after spending 20 years in China has now turned his eyes to India (I credit him with great timing!).

After a recent visit, he wrote this article for the Shanghai Daily which captured the “electricity in the air” feeling that Mumbai (and to a large extent, the rest of India) has these days: “”Mumbai has that sizzling Shanghai state of mind” – amidst all the heat and dust.

Excerpts (emphasis mine):

“…while people complain about the traffic in Shanghai, in Mumbai it takes three hours just to get from one side of the city to the other. Taking a taxi to see someone is a half-day journey.

But amid all the traffic chaos, Mumbai has that Shanghai feeling.

…The talk on the streets, from fashionable Bombistas wearing Prada and with Nokias glued to their ears, are of investments being made in Shanghai and Dubai.

The stock market too, is booming. Mumbai is Asia’s oldest stock exchange, and has a market capitalization of US$900 billion. Shanghai by comparison is US$1.56 trillion, and Shenzhen US$246 billion.

Those figures reflect the GDP position, with China’s US$2.7 trillion being about three times the size of India’s US$904 billion.

It means that India is about six-seven years behind China in terms of development, and those of you who were here then will recall the can-do spirit of late 90s Shanghai.

That is how Mumbai feels now – change is coming – fast, and the good times are back.

One, two and even three-billion-dollar investments are being secured, just as they were in Shanghai.

BMW, Nokia, General Motors – all major players are investing in the new India. Direct flights between Shanghai and Mumbai are now full on a thrice-daily basis, and the Beijing-Delhi route is even busier.

The brands are recognizable too – LV, Cartier, Paul & Shark, Burberry, Hermes, all present and correct, and with a middle class of some 350 million people, the Indians are buying.

…Sometimes Mumbai feels so different, and sometimes so much the same.

Both cities were moribund for so long, and both have awakened. Shanghai with its tradition of jazz and “qipaos” and Mumbai with its love of big bands and saris.

The two cities match each other, and for sure the sea routes between these two Asian giants are busy as trade reignites between these sisters of destiny…”


…and here are some great slides by Chris on India and China that contrast and compare the two countries. 

Great stuff Chris…I will be watching for more.

May 6th, 2007 Posted by | China, Emerging Markets, India | 8 comments


  1. The fact that he had spent long enough in Asia shows (two decades?) in that level headed, balanced analysis – as opposed to the cliched `cattle-on-the-roads’, `all pervasive squalor’ that seems to be the only preoccupation of many western visitors.

    Good to know that there are people who realize that the change is more internal to begin with and if allowed some time, will manifest externally – not that India needs those concessions, but it needs to trudge along with yoke of colonial history and a billion plus population even as it is hell bent on sticking with Democratic traditions, however crappy or warty.

    It’s the new resolve, the awakening as the author had rightly noticed.

    Comment by Krishna | May 7, 2007

  2. Chris is a bit of a China legend, he also does a bunch of exploring stuff in mountains and deserts. Good to see him getting to India too. Great speaker if you ever get the chance to see him, and he runs a nice practice.

    Comment by Peter Davis | May 7, 2007

  3. Krishna: For some reason, your comment got stuck in the spam queue…Anyways, good point and well said. In fact my next post will touch on what you mention in your comment about some of the handicaps/baggage that we (as in India) are saddled with.

    Peter: Didnt knew about that side of Chris. Thanks.

    Comment by Shantanu Bhagwat | May 9, 2007

  4. Thanks Shantanu. It happens. I look forward to your next post.

    Comment by Krishna | May 10, 2007

  5. Noe: Thanks for your comment.
    However, I have decided to keep it in my *moderation queue* for the time being as you have not offered any evidence to back your remarks.

    If you are able to provide more details, I will re-consider my decision.

    Comment by Shantanu | May 13, 2007

  6. You will have to give me an email address as I can not post the required attachments on this site.

    Comment by Noe Wallace | May 13, 2007

  7. I am always fascinated by efforts to make China and India seem similar, but from what I know of India (I know much more of China), my sense is that they are in fact very different countries.

    One more thing, at just about every pro-China seminar I have attended in the U.S., the most virulently anti-China audience members almost invariably come from India. I am skeptical as well of a close friendship between these two historic enemies.

    Comment by China Law Blog | May 17, 2007

  8. Chris has always been good value for money in his writings and presentations and has a pretty good feel for balance. Then again, he spends time getting out there himself and does the on-the-ground research. His blog about China / India is well worth checking out for those of us involved in both markets, and has a lot of interesting comparisons and comments. He certainly doesn’t suffer fools gladly that is for sure, and he pretty much tells it how it is.

    Comment by Mark Scattchi | July 9, 2007

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