Two interesting things happened on the sidelines of a startup conference I attended recently. I met a woman – a grandmother in her early 60s – who told me enthusiastically about the online food delivery business she started a year ago. She had come from Meerut and couldn’t wait to ‘spread’ her ‘Awadhi chaat’ across the world. I also met a 14-year-old girl from Mangalore who was building a “climate intelligence” app to help farmers better prepare for extreme weather events. The grandmother and teenager together have captured the entrepreneurial spirit that is sweeping India. From Meerut to Mangalore, we are building in India for the world.
The relentless rise of Indian entrepreneurship is a sight that not only amazes developed countries but also inspires other developing countries to aim higher and build more. With increasing digitalization, the entry barrier to becoming an entrepreneur in India is very low and getting even lower. It is no surprise that India has climbed nearly 80 ranks in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. India has the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world, which now comprises over 70,000 start-ups. Even better, more than half of these start-ups are now headquartered in non-metropolitan cities. The young Indian learns and works today not with the mindset of a job seeker, but with the perspective of a job creator. India at 75 is preparing for India forever.
The world’s largest democracy is also the world’s fifth largest economy with a median age below 30. India today has the perfect trio of ambition, skills and capital to build world-class businesses across multiple sectors. This is possible because today we are not hiding our problems but facing them head on with the energy and creativity of a young nation. To solve for India is to solve for one-sixth of humanity. The Indian government, through policies such as Digital India and Startup India, is playing a champion role in propelling India into the grand league of global disruptors. We have already created the largest middle class in the history of the world by lifting millions of people out of poverty. We must now give everyone a fair chance to develop their talents.
There are very few countries in the world whose history of advancement can parallel that of India. Especially since it is moving from an economy based on agriculture and services to an economy based on knowledge and products. However, sustained national progress depends on the continued convergence of education, technology and innovation. We need to train our children in critical thinking and problem solving, which will be vital for the future of work. Keeping pace with the rapidly changing technology landscape requires the vision that the National Education Policy 2020 boldly demonstrates. Equalizing and empowering, education is an essential element of nation building, giving more than one billion Indians a solid foundation to foster multi-year economic growth, upward social mobility and self-reliance.
Today, India is a “can-do” nation. By making the right choices, anyone can succeed in India. We must now work together with a mindset full of potential in this Amrit Kaal, which I see as 25 years of limitless possibilities in this new land of opportunity. We must gather enough courage to not only take charge of our own destiny, but also improve other lives. It is by transforming our many challenges into multiple opportunities that India will realize its full potential. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “To believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest.”
I am convinced that India will be the most powerful, happiest and most generous country in the world before the end of this century. You only have to meet an enterprising grandmother and an enterprising teenager to realize this yourself. Indeed, it was only in India that the son of a teacher who grew up in a village was able to realize his dream of helping millions of people learn better.
(Writer is Founder and CEO, BYJU’S)