Having just returned from the World Economic Forum in China, I’m filled with optimism and hope for India’s prospects. Let me explain:
For quite some time, there’s a line that’s been pushed through the media of the Chinese being super-human, super efficient, and all such super things. My visit last year to China confirmed this, but on reflection I feel I was awe-struck just to be visiting China – its hard not to be considering all the hype you hear about the economic juggernaut that’s going to increasingly shape all our futures.
Having taken the opportunity to scratch beneath the surface this time, I found that in many respects the Chinese are no different to my Indian brothers and sisters, it’s just that the state does a good job in presenting a different picture – one of an organised system and collective entity – which is certainly not the case.
In fact, witnessing and experiencing such difference, almost makes me like China more, it makes the place more humane, and for this reason more attractive as a place to visit and perhaps even invest in.
In India, the one thing we all know is that the government is simply incapable of trying to shape the world’s perception of India – which is no fault of their own, but simply a characteristic of the society it has become. With such rapid proliferation and scrutiny by the media and civil society groups, the government is held accountable – and perhaps does a better job at it than the Opposition parties in India.
When we look at macro trends, the economic advantages India is going to derive over the next thirty or so years from its demographic profile are absolutely gigantic. As Professor Tarun Khanna of the Harvard Business School cited at the Summit – India will have a surplus of approx. 50 million skilled workers over the next few decades, whereas the rest of the world will have exactly the opposite.
Given this is the case, does it not stand that India has a fair chance of lapping China in this race to the top?