Sunday, August 16, 2009

100 years of independence

As a kid, I often used to wonder what India would be like at the turn of the millennium. Now, I wonder what it would be like, in 2047 – after 100 years of freedom. What would the world be like and what would be India’s role in it?

Optimistic

After many years of sustained growth at much higher rates than the rest of the world, India would be at 14% of the world’s GDP. ( not yet as high as the 20% which it had attained in the 1500s, but clearly on the way there.)

India is a member of the security council of UN- a much restructured UN- along with USA, China, Russia, UK, France, Japan, Germany, Brazil and South Africa. (The member nations of the UN can now evict any security council member with a 2/3rd vote. Also, the veto power has been taken off from the security council)

India is the world leader in the following..
1. Services – any and all back office services- India is handling approximately 40% of all the world’s back office.
2. IT – the IT networks of almost all fortune 500 companies are managed out of India. 50% of the world’s software needs are met out of India
3. Space and aviation technology – India has become the launch pad for the numerous space missions (especially since there is mining in the moon and Mars) One out of every 3 space missions launch from India. In the balance 2/3rd, most of the highly sophisticated technology and components are designed and manufactured in India. India is also among the leading designers of nuclear fuelled airplanes.
4. Alternate energy – having gone thru a tremendous squeeze in supply of fuel in the second decade of the millennium, a forward thinking government invested heavily in research on alternate fuel. When the breakthrough came, the technology and the design was almost exclusively held by the IITs and a few Indian conglomerates.

In the early part of the second decade, the government had focused on connecting the semi urban masses to the back office opportunity thru a joint drive with the private sector. Education was restructured to impart the necessary skillsets. The result was astounding. Growth in smaller towns was at 10% + . The Indian private sector companies which actively participated in the partnership had runaway growth rates. The fact that women were encouraged to participate in this thru incentives ensured that by 2047, the sex ratio in the country had corrected to 995 females for 1000 males and for the last 10 years, there are 1050- females born for every 1000 male children.

There are 25 IITs in India. 60% of the seats are reserved for Indians. There is a headlong rush from all over the world to fill up the balance 40%. So is the case with the 50 NITs, 60 IIITs and 15 IIMs.

India has become the leading supplier of management talent in the world. 40% of the fortune 500 companies have Indians as their CEOs. (35% of the fortune 500 companies are Indian companies)

Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad have become some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Another 20 cities have joined the ranks of the ultra modern, swank, clean urban centres of the world.

Finally, India has overcome the huge gap in medical care and no. of doctors/ beds in the country. Today, India is a destination for the most complicated medical procedures. Fuelled by medical tourism, encouraged by the government and the 30 new IIMS s(Indian Institute of Medical Science) a large no of private hospitals were set up in the second and third decades.

Development in infrastructure, combined with a drive on cultural tourism has made India one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world with 10 fold increase in tourism in 30 years.

The overall improvement in IT enablement of the government and pressure to change has made India far less corrupt. Reaching a rank of 75 in transparency index.

Development, driven by increased education,. reduction in infant mortality, increased life expectancy, better medical care etc has made a quantum leap. India stands at 70th in the world on development index.

India, like the world has grappled with and overcome the terrorist problem. Some incredibly mature and solution oriented talks by Manmohan Singh in the initial phase of his 2nd of 3 successful consecutive terms as PM saw the rift between India and Pakistan slowly healing. Pushed by the US, Pakistan abandoned its support of terrorism. Propelled by the huge funding by US and its allies, with its GDP substantially growing and fundamentalist forces dying out, democracy takes roots in Pakistan. This leads to improved relations with India. India and Pakistan settle the Kashmir problem amicably. The extreme right wing parties lose out completely in India as do other fundamentalist forces.

China, which is now the largest economy in the world at 18% of the world GDP had gone thru its own revolution, and is now a democracy.

The world now has 4 economic blocks – the Americas ( US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Brazil), The EU, Greater China and India ASEAN and Japan.

Ramgopal Vallath is a happy retired man. Having made several tourist visits to the Moon and one to Mars, his life’s ambition is met. !!!!

Pessimistic

Fundamentalist forces are creating a strong schism in the country. The Islamic terrorism in the world spiralled upwards thru the second decade and created strong backlashes.

Most of the western nations substantially reduced interactions with Asian countries. Racial and communal discrimination spiralled in western countries and also in India. Fundamentalist right wing parties sprang up in the country. There are riots and communal violence in every state.

Pakistani army, heavily talibanised, dropped several nuclear bombs in India, which led to a retaliation. Thus the first full fledged nuclear war took place. This led the US to intervene and take over control of Pakistan and India went back by several years of development.

Several initiatives to create a global back office got scuttled by politicians with vested interests, who opposed English education. They also stopped modernisation on the tracks by clinging on to their warped view of Indian culture and instigating the unhappy masses against modernisation.

The country lost its focus on education and lost its share in the IT space.

Corruption spiralled up and India slipped to 150th rank in transparency index.

Ramgopal Vallath is a heart broken man.


So how do we ensure that India and the world takes Option A and not Option B? I believe the choice is for each of us to make. Between today and 2047, 3 new generations will be born, educated, enter the workforce and become world citizen. Let us inculcate the right values in them. Let us shun divisive fundamentalist forces and teach our children to do so. Let us work towards an open economy and discourage corruption. Let us take India to its rightful place by 2047. The choice is ours.

5 comments:

guess49 said...

INtresting read... From my view 2047 would be a combination of your optimistic and pesmistic views and also is majorly dependant on some of the policies that government would make on educational and liberisation reforms as your suceeding generation (me) I got benefited and equal oppurtunity for my share of study due to globalization and single window education policy..... I think so the whole world on technology and r&d front is saturated so the next big nation in the world would be the one who makes the first step towards it and embrace it...

Paddy said...

I'll remain an optimist ... for the simple reason that the collective energy of a billion+ population can only lead to a band-wagon effect on an already thriving economy ... cheers!

Ramans Effect said...

I wouldn't take the pessimist view here. Not because I feel Indian government would fuel growth, drive infrastructure, ensure literacy, health care etc in a planned manner. The only good thing government would do would be to keep playing politics, thereby ensuring the flag of democracy flies high. And added to this, India has come to a state where ambitious individuals are driving change and people are embracing any new concepts or "value for money" life style changes aggressively. Take for ex. Delhi Metro, or booking tickets thru internet or sending their children to learn things beyond academics. With politics not having much of impact on economics, people having relative freedom in a democratic environment, pursuing their ambitions actively, India would be a huge force to reckon with.

Roon said...

I prefer to take the optimistic view too. Not just because I am a hard-core romantic, but because I think there is a tremendous power and momentum in economic growth that will not allow petty politicians to mess up a great story. With internet penetration going up, the opportunities available are there for everyone to see. Yes - there is the risk of our neighbours going berserk and out of control - but those i choose to think are extreme situations. One of the things I hope to see in the optimistic view is a day when visionary leadership from India and Pakistan finally realise that 1947 has to be undone - and both the countries (like East & West Germany did) come together again. Amen.

Satish Shah said...

Interesting blog Ramji, I would obviously remain optimistic, but as you rightly pointed out there are some people with vested interests and i think they will be the only reason to pull this country down.