Sunday, March 22, 2009

Making Opportunity

In his interview with Jon Stewart, Nandan Nilekani gave a desi something to pause and think about when he said that population was once considered a liability for India but it is increasingly being viewed as an asset. That is quite the shift in perception and one that will take a while to resonate with the masses. For most of our lives we have heard how India's problems had no solution because there were far too many people.

We were condemned to being hamsters spinning endlessly in our wheels, never making any movement forward. Any gains we achieved would be negated promptly by the forever burgeoning population. In summary we had been conditioned to believe that it was a no-win situation until the "root cause" of all problems was corrected which is of course is no walk in the park to do.

Nilekani is possibly making a case for light at the end of this tunnel by turning conventional wisdom on its head - by seeing opportunity where no one saw it before. Coming from someone who helped make Infosys possible in India when few would have believed in the viability of such a venture, you can hardly dismiss this is moonshine.

He went on to add that the quality and education that children receive in the next couple of decades will determine how well and how much of his demographic dividend can be harnessed. Imagining India is definitely on my reading list - after being the inspiration for the theme and premise of The World Is Flat, it would be instructive to understand Nilekani's world view in his own words.

3 comments:

Surya said...

Thanks for the link, glad I watched it.

Is it just me, or is it arrogant to assume America is an example for India - good or bad?

NN's humility is refreshing and inspiring, think I will read the book just because he is so adorable!

Anonymous said...

"For most of our lives we have heard how India's problems had no solution because there were far too many people."

That is still the truth. You cannot change the fundamentals - even if you distribute 6 billion fairly among 150 countries, its impossible to feed 6 billion mouths because there isn't enough food to go around. Now 1.5 of that 6 ie. 25% is sitting in 1 country ie. India.
You do the math.

Ofcourse if you have 1.5 billion , you will have a very good shot at hiring 5000 IT ppl per annum at subpar wages, exactly what NN and his ilk want. Then that 5000 will have the gall to say they don't receive subpar wages, they are building the next generation India, etc. And who can argue with a mass of voluntary slave robots ?

amreekandesi said...

Nilekani definitely came across as a distinguished and very humble person in this interview.

I too look forward to reading his book. We need more visionaries like him.