Friday, February 12, 2010

Is India an Emerging World Power

Is India an Emerging World Power? A question we often come across in different media channels be it Television, Radio, Internet, Books etc. While there is no doubt that the Indian Economy has shown impressive growth numbers since 1991 questions remain over whether we are going to be a 'world' power in the 21st Century. Lets do a reality check - we are now into the 2nd decade of the 21st Century (which is supposed to belong to China & India) and still have a high population growth rate of 1.9%., literacy rates of around 65% and we still rank poorly on all UN surveys on quality of life and health. Lets look at some of our success stories - we are pretty much the 'back office' capital of the world..with IT Services and BPO bring us much need export earnings..but lets dwelve a bit deeper..what about R&D and Products...we cut a sorry figure there..barring Infosys's Finnacle and IFlex's Flexcube (now OFS thanks to Larry Ellison) we hardly have any products that are making waves worldwide. If we go by recent survey findings of World Intellectual Property Organization where we don't make it to the top 20 countries in Patents worldwide while our neighbour China features 5th with over 7000 patents filed in 2009. It tells us we are obviously not doing things right. Lets look at our education system which we claim produces top class students - none of our IITs, IIMs, NITs or INIs feature in the worlds best technology/B-school rankings. We still believe in reservations and government control of top institutes..clearly we are moving against conventional wisdom..
Look at the state of higher education in India..hows many quality PHD's are we churning out..not sup rising why we score low on patents..or quality research..our media highlights the success of Indians abroad but we conveniently forget that they are being rewarded for work in their adopted countries..So that brings us back to the old question of brain drain..have we stopped it by being the back office some extent yes..but the brain drain continues as we don't have the right people in core areas of scientific research, economics as well as academics. We have a huge shortfall of quality professors in all our premier institutes..
We need to wake up as a nation and realize where our true priorities are..blame games don't help..what is needed is some serious introspection and proactive action to stem the rot before its too late. We need an overhaul of our education system as well our approach to doing business. Corporate houses must invest in research and in building quality products..We need to create world class facilities in Indian companies and institutes to attract PHD's and SMEs. There is a lot of scope to work in the areas of energy efficiency, green energy, defence research, bio technology etc. Government must be a policy maker and enabler but not implementer..lets create models that work. Media must be responsible in portraying stories in terms of national relevance..TRP ratings are important but at what cost !
Lets learn from successful models and customize them for our long as we are ready to learn and innovate and appreciate the importance of national goals there is no reason why we can't be a 'world power'. But it would need some fundamental changes in our mindset and in the way we run organizations be it government, educational, defence or corporate. Time will tell whether we make it or not..i hope we do..