Looking forward

What are your thoughts?

A couple of my colleagues put forth these thoughts. I am not sure which one is more real. But look at it primarily as a thought exercise. Neither one is entirely true. Nor is any of these false. Which sounds more realistic?

One:

India has progressed based on arbitrage economy. The companies here save some money for their clients and in the process earn some. There’s no real innovation. Infrastructure is very poor and is crumbling under the demands put on it.  Manufacturing sector is not strong. There hasn’t been much progress in the agricultural sector after the green revolution. Per capita income is barely above some of the so called failed states. The IT industry is still more services than products and startups. Education system does not produce curious minds. In twenty years the situation would be unmanageable due to the number of old people. Systems are collapsing. For example, on roads one who applies brakes loses. Nor do people care for social fabric. People keep on harping about culture and values and civilization. But probably it is mostly a facade over an age old inferiority complex. It can be immediately validated by the way they get defensive. People have lost faith in systems and in the idea that they can make the system better. Everyone is busy trying to milk the system to their ends and trying to do it while they can. And such ways result in arbitrage economy rather than an innovative one and long lasting improvements.

Two:

At one point GE was one of the biggest companies and possibly had valuation more than India’s annual GDP. It is now smaller than Reliance. How could such a conglomerate with such diverse business fail? On the other hand Alibaba sells goods worth two digit billion dollars in a single day. In India Flipkart and Amazon are barely getting started. It is probably less than a percent population which is currently buying online. The money is moving. The demands are growing and people are making money off it. We are now more health conscious. We are demanding more from the government. We are going beyond what the government can provide. Roads are being built and markets are more accessible. Forget twenty, even ten years back the picture was vastly different. Think about where we will be in twenty years. A billion people market and that too local is a luxury many countries don’t have. A very few people get such opportunity. This is the best time. And people are disrupting processes and old ways and companies. The young generation, particularly millennials, did not have to fight for basic needs and it has resulted in a growing confidence and hopefulness. Innovation, particularly in Indian context, doesn’t have to be ‘today Apple is reinventing the phone’. It is as simple as ‘a farmer can start the water pump via mobile IVR’. Disruption is that now homes in remote areas has electricity. More and more people are using mobile phones, more people than before are migrating to a different state and the social fabric is changing. The transformation appears chaotic but when people are not distracted by having to fight for basic needs, they become more productive.

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