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Dreams for India

The potential to become a far more powerful and prosperous nation existed back then, and it exists now. What it requires, as management guru C.K. Prahalad writes so eloquently in our cover story, is not analysis but imagination.

Print Edition: August 24, 2008

Something profound happened to India over the past few years. It caught a glimpse of the greatness it could achieve. It was in the rise of IT triumvirate (TCS, Infosys and Wipro) as the world’s preferred vendors, Tata Steel’s acquisition of Corus, Bharti Airtel’s radical new model in telecoms, ICICI Bank’s success in retail banking and, perhaps, even in Lakshmi Niwas Mittal’s spectacular emergence as the world’s unquestioned steel czar. Suddenly, a lumbering India gathered pace, the world took it seriously and, most importantly, Indians took themselves seriously.

IIT students: Making India proud, indeed
IIT students: Making India proud, indeed
Therefore, it’s a little sad to see the pace at which India’s new-found confidence is giving way. Since January this year, the mood seems to have gone from rosy pink to dull grey. Just like India wasn’t going to overnight rocket into the superpower club then, it isn’t now going to fall off some precipice and die.

The potential to become a far more powerful and prosperous nation existed back then, and it exists now. What it requires, as management guru C.K. Prahalad writes so eloquently in our cover story, is not analysis but imagination. India has to imagine the future it wants for itself and figure out ways of getting there.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America, imagined a simple way to beat the Soviet Union’s growing prowess in space exploration: he set his scientists the goal of sending a man to the moon and bringing him back safely. It was something no country in the world had done. Yet, Kennedy, all of 44 then, dared to dream and put the country’s vast resources behind it.

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Prahalad has dared to dream, too. He dreams of an India that in its 75th year of independence, that is 2022, will have the largest pool of technicallytrained manpower; an India that will be home to 30 of the Fortune 100 companies; an India that will have a 10 per cent share of the world trade; and an India that will be a source of not just low-cost innovation, but also Nobel Prize winners.

It may be tempting to dismiss Prahalad’s vision as pie in the sky. But the fact is, it may not be as unrealistic as it sounds. All that India has to do is to a) believe that it can be done and b) go after it single-mindedly. Incremental stuff isn’t what dreams should be made of.

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