Dreaming Bharat@100

By Srinath Sridharan

Bharat, the land of opportunities and wisdom has come a long way. Just in these few years of its efforts for a nascent state. India, the nation, the largest democracy, thought leader amongst its peer nations – we grew up with “Unity in diversity” lessons in school.

India at 75, in the sense of our post-Covid world, is a hybrid of achievements. We have a mixture of growth, aspirations, gaps, and divides. We have made huge progress since 1947, and yet, we still have poverty, inequality, and illiteracy, troubling us and restraining us from becoming a developed society.

Our markets have made progress with valuations. But in ideological values, we need to be more united. Respect for others has to be unitary, and not a relative outcome.

The India@75 celebrations displayed phenomenal energy. It was satisfying to see our Tricolor fluttering high across the length and breadth of the country and abroad wherever the Indians were. What an energetic feeling it was.

The reality is ahead of us. We have to work harder to be truly worthy of our Independence and the values that our freedom fighters and thought leaders had stood for. We have to ensure that we are able to create equal opportunities for each of our fellow citizens.

Dream on

“I Have a Dream, a song to sing

To help me cope, with anything

If you see the wonder, of a fairy tale

You can take the future, even if you fail. “

(Lyrics of the song – I have a Dream by Abba)

Future is what we make it to be. We will indeed face the challenges of the 21st Century. While we worry about what technological disruptions can cause harm or injuries, let us not forget ourselves ‒ us humans!

We have the maximum propensity to be edgy, and we long for action.  I wonder if meditation and being still is a simple and impossible task for billions of the human race. We need to worry about humans getting influenced by perceptions and false narratives. We should worry about getting carried away by what is not true, in reality. We should worry about our own unnecessary pride, prejudices, percolated stupidities, and pandering notions.

Let’s talk Money!

Without this resource, our economy cannot scale. We need to be open and transparent about money conversations. In the digital era, data is how we will have to govern. So with the highest data governance, we can raise sufficient monies required to scale our economy.

For example, we don’t still have adequate and timely data about our informal sector or, for that matter, even about our micro, medium, and small enterprises (MSME). These are where the bulk of our brethren earn their daily living or starve for the day. In a data world, such a lack of granular data for policy making makes us vulnerable.

We need to scale our economy, not for any boasting rights but to boost our chances at inclusiveness. Finance, by design, is not inclusive. The only way to ensure inclusiveness is to provide an ecosystem for having a livelihood, and more if at all in bettering it. This is a political and market necessity, for only such a state of opportunities will keep social harmony in check.

Despite our efforts, narratives and denials, we do have a society of haves and have-nots. Across multiple hues, we have divided too. We grew up with dividers around caste, creed, gender, upbringing, jobs, social hierarchies, and more. Can we ensure that these don’t creep further into the other contemporary divides in our society such as access to data, digital, or any other criteria?

Opportunities Galore

To be relevant in global conversations, we have to be economically stronger too. We need to build brands from India that we can see all over the world by 2047. For we have the skills, brains, and talent to do so. All we have to do is to make this a mission for India Inc.‒   and channel our abundant energies, add some strategic planning and focused discipline with some frenzied execution pace.

For these, we need to nurture a resilient young generation. We need to give them skills for the future and knowledge for the future. Yet alarmingly, our education sector is yet to add value to the concept of learning.

The incentives for teachers are so low that we seem to have forgotten how ancient Bharat respected its teachers. No wonder, we have paper teachers, and we have a system with perverse incentives that will not build a persuasive generation after us. Hopefully, the New Education Policy (NEP) will disrupt the broken system and build a resilient and productive generation of our youngsters. For it is their India.

The actual soft power of our demographics lies in nearly two-thirds of them who are under 35 years of age. That’s where both the opportunities and concerns reside. In this GEMZ (Gig Economy Millennials & GenZ) era, challenges abound. We need to move away from a misplaced sense of concept and social entitlement to employment and make a developmental ecosystem of livelihood opportunities.

That’s why we need a sense of urgency.

We need an India that’s built on the premise of quality. We should not just build newer cities and transportation modes, but also have livable cities and towns. We take pride in building low-cost and high-impact space innovation. Yet we have repeatedly failed in even building city roads that can last a few years.

How can we blame our fellow citizens if they leave the shores for a better quality of living or simple clutter-free civic infrastructure?

I did not witness India becoming independent, but I grew up seeing how an Independent India nurtured its beliefs, shaped our hunger to succeed, and propelled us to overcome fears in our minds. We did not have many material things, but always had the hunger to rise and shine – in life and in society.

Just as you are, I too am a proud Indian, with the ethos and culture of Indianness ingrained in me. Can we have a society where we can civilly agree to disagree?  And yet build a stronger love for our land. For, she has given us everything that we have.

It is Hope despite hunger, Perseverance despite pain, and Faith despite failures that have brought us here so far. We need to stay the course, with renewed energy, positivity, and focus. We simply cannot lag behind, be slack or slow down.

We need this dream of India@100. We need to contribute to an inclusive stable resilient India. Every individual counts, and every positive action adds up. When you feel it is dark, just remember: “there is darkness before the dawn”.

India@100 will be how well we govern all aspects of ourselves to give us more. And our actions from now will determine if they will be better than what we are now. We have the People, Patience Past learnings, and the Big Picture. Of what we were, are, and can be.

(The writer is a corporate advisor and independent markets commentator.)

(Courtesy: Business World)

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: Columbia University)

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