India is on a roll. Confidence and optimism reign high as every day brings with it news of more jobs and investments coming in. Construction activity is booming with the demand for new offices, homes and malls in urban and semi-urban India. Improving roads are driving demand for cars and weekend vacations. Rarely a week goes by without a significant story in the Western press about India. Indian companies are eyeing acquisitions abroad. Growth rates and foreign reserves are rising to levels which provoke comparisons with China in the 1980s and 1990s. As elections draw near, politicians across the board are realising that the best way to stay in power is to actually do constructive work for the people rather than harp on caste or communal issues. So, India is, finally, Developing.
After years of false starts, stunted growth and belied expectations, India has begun its march on the path of development. For the first time, many of the changes are happening at a fundamental level which is setting in motion a positive feedback loop that is expected to sustain growth at high levels and increase incomes for the next many years to come. For a nation that last experienced real prosperity many centuries ago, this is a different feeling. Attitudes and mindsets are beginning to change as the feel-good sector percolates across. It is unlike anything that has been seen in our lifetime.
Yet, this is only the first step in a long journey on the path to development. A lot more has to be done. There is also an India comprised of hundreds of millions of people that still is steeped in illiteracy and poverty, and find life a punishment. Life may be improving for some, but try telling that to those living in the urban slums. Even as employment opportunities abound for some, there are many who are stuck in low-quality jobs. Reliable supply of round-the-clock power is still a challenge in much of India. Peninsula India may be shining, but much of the Hindi heartland and the East of the country is still awaiting its turn.
But, for all its lopsidedness, the development process that has begun promises to transform India. Finally, more than government policies, I believe it is the Indian entrepreneurs who will build the New India across it length and breadth. One person with vision has the ability to make a difference for hundreds. And what India is seeing today is the creation and rising of the aspirations of this class who want to not only seek out opportunities to create wealth (and in doing so risk everything they have), but also genuinely believe that it is they who can build out the future.
This series is for these emergent entrepreneurs that class of people which wants to do good and do well at the same time. Their parents led life in the constraints of the India that was shackled. They want to break free. Their role models are simultaneously Vajpayee and Bill Gates. As they unleash their creative power, these are the entrepreneurs who will take India to levels far greater than what we can imagine. For them, India beckons as a market. Ambala and Jabalpur hold more promise than America and Japan. The opportunities are also within, and not just outside. India is an emerging market.
Tomorrow: What Others Say
TECH TALK As India Develops+T