The past year has been an amazing one for you and for India. Even as the stock market has risen about 70% during this period, India is now perhaps entering a golden phase one not seen for many centuries. Theres tremendous worldwide interest in India as a market, as a source of innovation, as a provider of human capital, and more. The India you will grow up in will be very different from the one I grew up in. Your India will be a world power respected and admired. It is something that I could not have imagined a decade or so ago. But thats how the world turns.
It is still an India that is poor and one that will remain so at least for the first few decades of your life. We will need many years of rapid growth to make up for all those past errors. But India has to its advantage a democratic foundation, a young population, and a vast reserve of entrepreneurial talent. Theres a lot to be done, and hopefully, in your prime, you will be able to make a positive difference in your own way.
It is an exciting time to be living here. Theres so much change. Infrastructure is being built around roads, improving airports, even the railways are now profitable and talking customer service! Theres a lot of investment coming into India. In the 1990s, one used to read about all the things that were happening in China. Hopefully, the next ten years will see people being surprised with Indias progress and development.
It is an India that is confident now. Yes, we still worry about our politicians, but we are not obsessed with them now. We are hungry for growth. We want the best fast. The other day, we were at one of the malls in Mumbai and your mom remarked that pretty much every international brand now had a presence there. I guess shes now only waiting for Wal-Mart to arrive!
Indias biggest challenges will be in the areas of education (200 million people need to learn to read), healthcare (making it affordable for all), energy (so we dont increase the costs of our own development and dont pollute the planet). Rural development is critical to Indias future and while there are investments happening in rural India, not all of it gets to what its intended for. And more often than not, the thinking itself about the decisions made is flawed.
Why am I telling you all this? You are still just a year old. You know something? There are times when I think you are as old as the New India that we are seeing! Your spirit and exuberance reminds me so much of our country. As you both grow up, I hope that same positive energy stays and infects the world around.
Happy Birthday, Abhi. Heres wishing you and India another great year.