India is the place to be- there are no two ways about it. A very confident corporate India looking to dominate the global market place, an economy that could tend towards 10% growth, rising income levels, positive demographics etc have made the India story a little bit believable. Commentators are now talking about the capacity of the average Indian to think big with the acquisition spree of corporate India being held as a sure sign of increased risk taking ability.
Now the key questions are
1) Are Indians traditionally risk-averse? If so why?
2) Has the risk taking ability increased now? If so why?
The answer to both questions is, Team-work. Indians are traditionally not good at working in teams. Seems counter-intuitive right? After all it is the joint family culture. But, on a closer look the family culture is mainly patriarcal with the female sphere of influence being limited. Further, the Hindu religion is based on "To each his own" philosophy which has lead to a multitude of paths for people to follow (atleast on the rituals side). Education is by-rote (yes again religious reasons-the scriptures were to be learned by hearing alone) with little focus on 'activities'. Sports, again a potent team building exercise does not get importance here, ( whether this is a cause or effect is left to another post). Risk is chance of a loss. It deals with understanding the concept of input-> reward. Do we lack this? No we don't, just that the scale of the reward did not seem to matter. Any evidence for risk-taking ability? Yes, a majority of the populace is self-employed. Self-employment maybe due to lack of opportunities, but it is trend nevertheless.
Where is the current change then? Indians are slowly realizing that their key problem is implementation, not ideas. And to implement anything on a decent scale, you need people working in teams, not silos. Even as we look at successful partnerships of Indians with companies abroad the key theme is 'people working together' and the key theme for stuttering Indian sectors? lack of implementation again.
Is the increase in team-culture due to the recent economic gains? Nope, its because of increased exposure. Cities always tend to create more opportunities because they give a higher reward for the inputs (Think Mumbai). The current global integration has exposed Indians to higher rewards and they have responded by learning to work in teams.
further reading (courtesy-swl): http://indianeconomy.org/2007/04/19/the-culture-of-risk/