Indians wants to move ahead, but India doesn’t. Our politics, bureaucrats and our heritage hold us back even as the people want a better life. This has been the story of the past half-century. What will it take for us to become an economic success? I will argue that Indians need to forget (or at least try and ignore) the bottlenecks and pain points that we face, look beyond just IT services, and think into the future, using technology and grassroots entrepreneurship to drive us forward. It may be seemingly impossible, but as we will see, a number of technological developments are opening up very interesting opportunities. We can either sit back and accept or curse our present, or whole-heartedly embrace the challenge to build the future.
Just because we are in India does not mean we are in anyway less intelligent than people in the developed markets like US, Western Europe or Japan. Being in India is no excuse for being second-class. The battle for the future is a battle of ideas, a battle of wits, a battle of vision. We have to play against the world’s best and win.
As companies and entrepreneurs based in India, we have to make a choice. We can be kings of neighbourhood living happily ever after. Or we can take on the Goliaths of the world using knowledge as our competitive advantage. Yes, we will have far less resources than the world’s big companies (or even the smaller companies in the developed markets) have. But if we are willing to think through a vision of tomorrow and work determinedly towards inventing that future, the India of tomorrow will be one in which our future generations can live happily – provided we are willing to put in the efforts now.
As entrepreneurs and companies out of India, we may have limited money, resources and branding. But there is one resource which can help not just level the playing field but also be our source of strength. The Internet has made available in near real-time a vast pool of information ores which can be refined by us into knowledge and insights – if we are willing to put in the efforts.
The stage of competition is not limited by national boundaries. We may be in India but it should not make a difference. Many of us have the option of being anywhere we choose. We have made India our home and base – either out of our own free will or due to some pressures. But once the choice is made, let’s put that behind us. The chess game that we are embarking on is in a global theatre. There are few prizes for being also-rans. We have to use our intelligence, our knowledge, our clusters to outmaneuver, outthink and outsmart our competitors.
The coming columns will explore various technologies and the new future that is being created. Embedded in the whitespaces are the next set of opportunities. The next Intel, the next Microsoft can come from India – if we believe it can.
We will start our journey with a look first at where India stands today.