Change paces itself in strange ways. The idea of wheeled luggage struck man - Bernard Sadow of US Luggage in the eastern United States, to be accurate - in 1970, at least 5,500 years after an earlier man is said to have invented the wheel. This is business trivia, but history shows hundreds of such examples of change, slow, almost by their own volition, with little or no link to economic value.
The cause-effect linkages in India of the last 20 years are not tenuous. The second most populous nation in the world has changed like never before in nearly two-and-half centuries. But a country where people younger than 35 outnumber others two to one, has no time to look back. Forget centuries of a rich culture, religion and history, it is the future that is important.
So, as we set about putting together Business Today's 20th anniversary issue, we resisted the temptation to look back into the past - except for the12 enterprises that changed India - and set our sights firmly on the years ahead. We contacted the best minds in the land and had them tell us where India is going. Among the best writing, you will see Raghunath Anant Mashelkar's takeout on innovation, an outside-in view of India by Arvind Subramanian, Elattuvalapil Sreedharan's advice on urban transportation, Ajay Jakhar's passionate call to reforms in agriculture, Herminia Ibarra's fixes to get women into top spots in the corporate pyramid, and Sasha Mirchandani's take on why this is the best time to be an entrepreneur in India. These and 17 other columns give you the edge 'for managing tomorrow' - BT's promise to its readers.
Just as path-shining are eight ideas that BT's in-house thinkers believe can change India. To be sure, there are several other initiatives that could help the country change, but potable water; low-cost tablet computers powered by wireless broadband and cloud computing; solar energy; mobile payments; unique identification; and screen-based commodity trading are sure to put India on a slingshot trajectory.
If this overview could have been presented as a visual, we would have. We took the nextbest option: Pictures. The first set is 20 pictures of business icons who changed India in the last 20 years, shot by BT photographers over the years. Then, we have 20 young Indians who could change India in the next two decades. If curiosity is your weakness, we urge you to quickly (and return as quickly here) see what India's richest man today looked like 22 years ago.
The big transformation is the deluge of opportunities around for anybody entrepreneurial. Grabbing them are hundreds of thousands of enterprising Indians. Six of them find their place in this issue. An anniversary issue is always a special effort. When it is your 20th one, you put in all you have to produce what you think will be a masterpiece. Trust you find the essence of 20 years of publishing India's No. 1 business magazine reflected in this issue.