The year show one of the biggest surprises in India in recent times: the incumbent BJP-led government which built its campaign around India Shining lost to a Congress-led coalition which focused on the common man. An economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh, became Indias new Prime Minister. Together with Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, they are working to ensure that the benefits of reforms reach rural India also. The challenges for India are many. Time is short. How will Indias development take place?
As India Develops (Mar 2004): Indias development opens up many opportunities. Here, I will focus on seven key areas that entrepreneurs can seek to target in the coming years. While some of these ideas may be specific to the urban or rural context, others can work across both. The two things common to all of them are that they require much less capital than the build-out of core infrastructure, and they need new, innovative ideas. If we can make these ideas work in India, we could also translate them to many of the other emerging markets as they develop. The seven areas are: Education, Microfinance, Market Access, Information Access, ICT, Energy and Distribution HubsFor the most part, the focus [needs to be] on two sectors which can be the twin engines for growth: the small- and medium-sized enterprises of India, and rural IndiaAs we look ahead, what will be the other catalysing factors to accelerate Indias development? Think Vision and Will, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
An Agenda for the Next Government (May 2004): After a popular, peaceful rebellion by the ballot, India has a new government at the Centre. The victory of the Congress and its allies was unexpected it was a surprise even for the victors. It just goes to show how much the media and we people in urban India are out-of-step with the opinion of the majority. So, after eight years in the political wilderness, the Congress returns to power and Vajpayee leaves the helm of India after six-and-a-half years. The election results will cause a lot of soul-searching across the Indian political spectrum. Even as the post-mortem takes place, it is time for a new government to take over. This column looks at the challenges for the new leadership: Governance, Development, TechnologyIrrespective of what party or candidate we voted for, it is for us to ensure that we get the governance we need to take India forward faster. Bharat and India are but two sides of the same coin. Without one, there is no other. The hopes of many now rest with a few.
I also took a couple of journeys during the year one through Rajasthan, and another to From Delhi ot Dehradhun by train (en route to Mussoorie for a talk). Journeys give me time to think more about India.
Rajasthan Ruminations (Feb 2004): In many ways, Rajasthans story is that of India a glorious past, but a future handicapped by the short-sighted policies of our own leaders. The problems are complex, but at their core, there are a few. India is a country whose spirit has, for a long time, been held hostage by its own politicians and bureaucrats. There are signs of change, but it is coming very slowly. And unless we act quickly, another generation will have lost an opportunity for a better tomorrow To bring back the glorious era of the past, Rajasthan and Rural India needs the right mix of governance , entrepreneurship and technology to put it on the road to economic development and prosperity.
A Train Journey (Jun 2004): Sitting in the train, I couldnt help thinking that access to computing could be that disruptive innovation which transforms lives in the Indian countryside not just in rural India, but also for the middle and bottom of the pyramid in urban and semi-urban India. From education to healthcare, for families and students, from content to commerce, for shopkeepers and enterprises the computer is the digital hand that can potentially remake India. It can provide for efficient operations, create opportunities, increase options and open new windows to the future. How can we make the third revolution happen in the next five years to open windows for hundreds of millions of Indians to the future? That is what occupied my thoughts as dusk turned to night and we made our way to the foothills of Mussoorie.
Best of Tech Talk 2004+T