The India That Might Have Been (Part 9)

India 2024 – 2

Extreme poverty had been eliminated. The percentage of people engaged in agriculture had dropped from nearly 50% in 2014 to just under 10% — even as food grain production had risen rapidly with the removal of laws that kept farms small and farmers chained. Manufacturing and services were absorbing Indians in huge numbers. India now had 3 universities in the top 10 compared to none in the top 100 a decade ago. India’s patent filings – a measure of local innovation – had been steadily rising. India’s legal system was once among the slowest in the world, with cases taking as many as 10-15 years to move to resolution. Now, justice is delivered speedily – making contract enforcement a breeze.

Indian entrepreneurship had flourished. Indian startups were much sought after by global venture capitalists. While still not matching Silicon Valley, India’s multiple innovation ‘valleys’ had powered breakthroughs which had improved life not just for Indians but across Asia and Africa.

India’s predominantly rural economy of the past has been replaced with urban centres. Village life was now a tourism experience rather than a forced necessity. Infrastructure buildout had proceeded at a very rapid pace in the past decade. High-speed trains moved people rapidly between cities. High-speed networks connected Indians to each other and the Internet making physical location less relevant. India led the world in eCommerce adoption. Everything tech – fintech, edutech, agritech, and so on – had an India angle. The large domestic market and rapidly growing incomes had powered Indian companies to new heights.

Taxes in India were among the lowest globally. No tax exceeded 10%. India’s continuing public asset monetisation programme continued to attract global investors. The $2 trillion loan had long been repaid. The combination of a fast growing economy, young and aspirational population, limited government, rule of law, safeguards for property rights had all combined to make India the fulcrum for global commerce and supply chains.

Corruption and cronyism had all but vanished in India. The scope and size of government had reduced and so had its discretionary powers. India today reminds one of the US in the 1800s – where private corporations and philanthropy were the cornerstone of the growth acceleration rather than government spending. Economic growth, not political patronage, was what was top of the mind for Indians. There had also been a sea change in India’s politicians; because it no longer paid to be in politics, there was a new class of people entering politics – with an objective to safeguard the freedoms enjoyed by the people.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.

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