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A commonly accepted definition of an MNC is an enterprise producing at least 25 per cent of its world output outside its country of origin. Enabled by Internet based communication tools, a new breed of multinational companies is growing in numbers. These multinationals start operating in different countries from the very early stages. These companies are being called micro- multinationals. What differentiates micro- multinationals from the large MNCs is the fact that they are small businesses. Some of these micro-multinationals, particularly software development companies, have been hiring employees in multiple countries from the beginning of the Internet era.
But more and more micro- multinationals are actively starting to market their products and services in various countries. Internet tools like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ebay and Amazon make it easier for the micro- multinationals to reach potential customers in other countries. In India, since the announcement of the liberalised foreign investment policy in 1991, there has been a spurt in the number of MNCs as well as foreign collaborations. The multinational companies in India represent a diversified portfolio of companies from different countries.
Though the American companies—the majority of the MNC in India—account for about one-third of the turnover of the top 20 firms operating in India, the scenario has changed a lot of late. More enterprises from the European Union like Britain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Finland have come to India or have outsourced their work to this country. Finnish mobile giant Nokia has a large base in this country. There are also MNCs like British Petroleum and Vodafone.
India has a huge market for automobiles and hence a number of automobile giants have stepped into this country to reap the market. French Heavy Engineering major Alstom and Pharma major Sanofi Aventis have also started their operations in this country. The latter is in fact one of the earliest entrants in the list of multinational companies in India. There are also a number of oil companies and infrastructure builders from the Middle East. Electronics giants like Samsung and LG Electronics from South Korea have made a substantial impact on the Indian electronics market.
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The impact of MNCs on the development of a country is highly uneven. In some ways the impact of MNCs in India has been positive. They have brought in new technology and products, so the consumers have wide choice and awareness of international standards. Indian companies more efficient as they brought in competition. But the negative aspects of their entry into our country are serious. In many situations these enterprises widen the already high income gap between the rich and the poor.
They tend to promote the interests of the small number of well-paid modern sector workers, and this leads to the widening of wage differentials in the country. As they are mostly located in urban areas, the MNCs worsen the already existing imbalance between the rural and urban areas as well as contribute to accelerated rural-urban migration. They divert resources away from much- needed food production to the manufacture of sophisticated products catering to the demands of the local elite. Such capital intensive technology leads to negligible, or even reduces, job creation. Although MNCs improve the foreign exchange position of a country, their long-term impact may be to reduce foreign exchange earnings of both current and capital accounts. The current account may deteriorate due to large-scale import of intermediate goods, and capital account may worsen because of repatriation of profits, interest, royalties, management fees, etc. Indeed, the RBI has said that the average rate of profit of MNCs is something between 20 per cent and 25 per cent—which is a substantial amount sent out of the country.
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