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Entrepreneurial Lessons from Shiva, the Destroyer

I’ve been traveling regularly to India for years, and though it’s an immensely complicated country, each time I visit I come a little closer to decoding it.

Here's what I've come to realize: it’s all about Shiva.

Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction. But there’s a positive spin to that, because, of course, out of that destruction comes rebirth. I think a lot about modern India and Indians centers around this idea of knocking down and rebuilding:

They built themselves up after the British left. They built a new capitalist economy after dabbling with socialistic policies early on. And now they’re building malls and condos and a new middle class in areas where once there was only poverty. (There still is plenty of poverty, but that’s a later post.)

Of late, in Mumbai, they’re opening up their world-class hotels again, too: the city teems with too much life to let murderous thugs stop it.

As if taking their cues from the ancient Shiva, capitalist thinkers have for years embraced the notion of “creative destruction.” The late Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized the idea, positing that jolts of entrepreneurial innovation destroy the old order, and out of the ashes comes a new form.

So it is with Shiva and Schumpeter in mind that I write my first notebook entry for GlobalPost.

We are in the midst of journalistic smoke and rubble: the Tribune declaring bankruptcy. Big-city dailies going under or being sold off. The New York Times Company cutting dividends, etc.

They're also boarding up foreign bureaus left and right.

But out of this destruction, new forms emerge.

GlobalPost is a great experiment with the potential to be a ground-breaker in journalism.

The site is not, thankfully, tethered to old ways: not much overhead, no printing plants, no distribution costs. Just zeros and ones flying through the internet ether, backed up by a ton of great on-the-ground reporting from the world’s hotspots, city streets and far-flung locales.

There’s no doubt that we have a lot of work to do. But as we go forward, here’s hoping that we’ll move metaphorically from Shiva and on to Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of good fortune.