A new essay collection explores the growth and potential of the world’s largest democracy
What will India look like 20 years from now? What about 50 years into the future? A recent volume of essays, commissioned by McKinsey and Company, explores the future of India in the 21st century as one of the world’s emerging powerhouses.
Recently a group of key figures in the Indian and Australian business communities, including the Consul-General of India, Sunjay Sudhir, came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing India and its sizeable population.
The event, co-hosted by McKinsey and Company, Asia Society Australia and the University of New South Wales, marked the Australian launch of Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower. The book is a collection of opinions and ideas from some of the world’s great thinkers. Each of the 65 essays explores different facets of India’s development, in terms of its rising economy and burgeoning middle class, and takes on everything that is right – and wrong – with the country. The articles also examine the fusion of modern and traditional cultural elements, and the changing nature of politics in the largest modern democracy.
Co-Editor of Reimagining India Adil Zainulbhai began the evening by outlining how India and its leaders must take a long-term perspective and explore the potential of India beyond pure economics.
Senior Adviser to McKinsey and until recently Chairman of McKinsey India, Mr Zainulbhai continued by saying India will persist in improving the standard of living for its people and how the ubiquitous spread of technology is accelerating this process. With two-thirds of the population under 35, “the large number of young people coming into the workplace will have a huge impact on the economy and politics of India,” Zainulbhai said.
A featured panel discussion, moderated by UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer, saw experts including Sunjay Sudhir, Consul-General of India, Neville Roach, the Patron of the Australia India Institute at UNSW, Deborah Hadwen, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, and Graeme Barty, Austrade’s General Manger of Growth and Emerging Markets, considering the significant opportunities in India for Australian business and innovation.
India currently has the world’s best performing stock market and is earning a place alongside China as one of the world’s indispensible economies. As Consul-General Sunjay Sudhir said, the strength of the Indian economy lies in its resilience, entrepreneurship and being unafraid of risk taking.
India is the second largest source of overseas students to Australian universities, making it a key market. Neville Roach proposed that Australia further develop its relationships with India in the education and research sector in order to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and skills, and capitalise on new business opportunities. Professor Hilmer agreed, saying, “Education is a microcosm of the larger story of this book, which is the achievements of India, its potential and the unanswered questions”.
The rapidly changing demographics of India, along with its innovation in technology and increasing urbanisation, continue to make this country an exciting possibility for Australian industry and investors. Graeme Barty summarised how Australia can seize its comparative advantage in certain industries in order to create change. He suggested these areas include dairy services, coal mining, long haul freight rail, energy efficiency and the implementation of cultural precincts. He also outlined how Australia, a world leader in road safety, can assist India in reforming its urban infrastructure. “More Indians are killed in road accidents than from malaria and typhoid combined,” Mr Barty said.
As Neville Roach suggested, reimagining the state of India is about changing attitudes and aspirations. It is as much about social change as it is about the economy. This book provides a radical new vision of India where “Australia can turn for leadership and ideas in a relationship of mutual respect”.
Reimagining India includes contributions by influential thinkers from India and across the globe including businessmen, economists, cricketers, journalists and artists. High profile contributors include people such as Bill Gates, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, businessman Anand Mahindra, and Google chairman Eric Schmidt. Each shares their unique insights into how India might forge a better future.
As one of the contributors to the book, Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group wrote, “Much of the developing world faces the same challenges India does. The solutions developed (there) – the answers to the most metaphysical questions about how societies should work and grow – will have worldwide relevance”.