AT Kearney has ranked India as the most preferred country for offshore outsourcing. India is among top few in the emerging markets in the retail sphere. The World Economic Forum at Davos featured 'Incredible India' as a theme. George W Bush has suggested that Americans learn Hindi and Chinese. Indian stock markets are booming. Automobiles, healthcare, supercomputing, biotechnology, education, technology and many more sectors in India are steadily climbing to be the best in the world. All publications talk about the burgeoning Indian middle class and the demographic advantage that India has with more than 50% of the population being under 30.
When I read all this I am reminded of the time when I was growing up when Indians as a race suffered from low self esteem, all things across shores towards west seemed so attractive. Kids at school loved showing off their pens, pecilboxes, toys and gadgets from abroad. Most students (they still do I think) studied hard to clear SAT/GMAT/GRE examinations. "Idhar rakha hi kya hai?" (No future here) they would say. Those of us who have relatives abroad would wait impatiently for the suitcases of our relatives to be opened, which seemed to have a characteristic 'foreign' smell. We would be so thrilled to receive gifts of foreign chocolates, clothes, shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, foodstuffs, gadgets and so on. Nothing which was Indian seemed to appeal, we were a dismal lot who were never happy with our country.
The self esteem levels were quite low even about 7-8 years back but gradually it started changing. What changed our perception about our country? The poor are still poor, people still sleep on the pavements, the children still beg on the streets, Mumbai still has the world's largest slum, the politicians are still corrupt and the system still does not work. In a recent article in Newsweek by Fareed Zakaria, there were few lines which seemed interesting and relevant, they are as follows:
India has vast and growing numbers of entrepreneurs who want to make money. And somehow they find a way to do it, overcoming the obstacles, bypassing the bureaucracy. "The government sleeps at night and the economy grows," says Gurcharan Das, former CEO of Procter Gamble in India.
It was all happening right under our noses but we never realized that we are getting somewhere. The first to spot this as an opportunity was the ruling political party BJP who put together the 'India Shining' election campaign which I thought was quite well done. The message was loud and clear - India is happening - the new India has arrived. The middle class may be educated enough to see through crafty strategies of political parties but somehow the message was rooted in their sub concience. They woke up and looked around and found that a lot is really changing for the better and they felt good about themselves and the country. Now whether BJP had brought about the positive changes in the economy is open for debate, but their ad did wonders for realization.
The media and the international consulting firms stepped in as well and the newspapers and magazines were and still are flooded about various reports and analysis about India's bright future. People like me who grew up beleiving that nothing good can ever happen to this country now have happily altered their view point for the better and now we work towards that goal and beleive in the reality 'India Shining'.