Everyday, I oscillate between exhilaration and despair.
The market opportunities are evident. The energy, optimism, and passion of all Indians is infectious. The collective ambition to re-gain our rightful place in the world economic order is truly inspiring.
Yet, its hard not to despair. The infrastructure is abominable. The poverty and depravation is gut wrenching. The way the middle class treat their staff (maids, drivers, etc.) is inhumane.
Furthermore, the contradictions are inexplicable.
- In a country where incomes are 1/50th of the US, prices are mostly higher. Yes, apples for apples, almost everything is more expensive in India.
- The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) attracts some of the brightest minds in the world, and yet our bureaucracy is our worst enemy
- Dr. Manmohan Singh, our prime minister, is an educated and erudite man who many regard as “the model of what a political leader should be”. And yet, our politicians are vile, uncouth, incompetent and corrupt.
Amidst all these dichotomies, the trajectory is irrevocable. In our lifetime, India will once again account for over 20% of global GDP, similar to India in 1700 and the US today.
In fact, in just 10 years,
- India will be the 3rd largest economy, with 1.5 B people of which 400 M can be considered “middle class”, and 500 M+ will live in urban areas.
- The NCR (Delhi and its surrounding towns) becomes a global metropolitan hub with 25 M + people and world class infrastructure. In all, there will be 100 + towns larger than San Francisco (~ 1 M pop.) all connected by 4 lane highways.
- There will be 10 (vs.3 today) world class international airports and 50 + (vs. 25) domestic airports.
- India will be the 3rd largest global hub for defense, aerospace and power equipment, the global hub for small car design and manufacturing and the 2nd largest global hub for ship building and repair.
- Every Indian will have a UID (vs. none today), 400 M + will have a bank account (vs. 75 M today),
- 300 M+ will have access to electronic fund transfer (vs. 10 M today) and 250 M + will have access to credit (vs. 15 M today). As a result, India will have 2nd largest electronic payments volume (after China), the 4th largest credit economy ($ 2 T +), and 5th largest market for insurance.
- India is already a huge mobile market. By 2020, it will be the # 1 cell phone market globally with 1 B + connections, the 2nd largest no. of broadband users (400 M+), and the 5th largest market for IT products and services.
- Bollywood already makes more movies than Hollywood. In 10 years, it will be the 2nd largest entertainment hub exporting movies, music, and fashion to the rest of the world.
- Indian companies are already global leaders in IT services. By 2020, several Indian carriers will be global players (e.g. Bharti, Reliance, TATA Telecom), 4- 5 Indian banks will be in the global 25, and TATA Motors will be a top 10 global automotive company.
- India is a land of entrepreneurs. Over the next decade, fueled by growing local markets, access to capital and growth in higher education (e.g. 10,000 engineering PhDs annually vs. 1000 today), India will produce its very own Google, a start-up that creates over $ 100 B in value.
In 10 years, I hope that despair will be a thing of the past, and we will all wake up exhilarated very day. In 10 years, I hope that we will all come to regard Hans Rosling’s predictions as incontrovertible.