Two Questions on Empires and Scale

During my London trip, there were two questions that I started thinking over.

  • Why is it that only some countries built out empires? In this context, why did India not go outward and build out an empire? The answer matters now because I see a similar story playing out in the global business space. A related question would be: is it possible for the “next big idea/thing” to originate in India?
  • Why do we think at such a small scale in India? This hit me when I got into a ridiculously small lift at the Mumbai airport to go one level down (and bypass a big queue). The lift was for the airline crew to use. [I used the “travelling with children” line to get in.] Considering that it is for use for crew with at least one bag, the lift could barely fit 5-6 people. It was the same story at Mumbai airport’s recently constructed car pick-up point. Why do we in India think at such a small scale? This story has been repeated time and again. Can’t we think bigger? What holds us back? [On this point, as I read somewhere: The recently constructed eight-lane Bandra-Worli sea link will see four lanes merge into a single lane at a T-junction at the Worli end. Can’t we even think?]